The largest shadows will be cast during this week’s Group of Seven (G7) leaders’ meeting by two nations that were not even invited to the Hiroshima gathering: China and Russia.
Officials believe that as the leaders of the world’s leading democracies gather for three days beginning Friday in the western Japanese city, they will need to overcome some of their own divisions in order to show unity in the face of threats from Beijing and Moscow.
Divisions within the G7 appear to be the most notable over China, multiple officials told Reuters, with countries grappling on how to warn against what they see as China’s threat to global supply chains and economic security without completely alienating a powerful and important trade partner.
The G7 countries — the United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Canada and Italy — are all closely tied economically to China, the world’s second-largest economy and a key global manufacturing base and market.
How the G7 will deal with the “great power competition” is an important issue for the summit, said Narushige Michishita, a professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) in Tokyo.
“They have to address economic security and how to deal with sensitive technologies,” Michishita said. “Everything is part of the great power competition that is taking place between the United States and Russia, and the United States and China.”
Their differences on China were put in sharp focus after French President Emmanuel Macron visited Beijing last month and called for the European Union to reduce its dependence on the United States.
A senior U.S. administration official told Reuters this week the summit would show leaders unified behind a common approach to China, although he acknowledged it was “one of the more complex issues” for the meeting.