G20 summit may touch upon territorial disputes

The G20 summit of developed and emerging economies will take place in the Chinese city of Hangzhou on September 4-5.

 In addition to discussing how to boost the global economy, the participants are expected to touch upon territorial disputes.

G20 summits used to focus on coordinating the monetary and financial policies of major economies in dealing with the global financial crisis. Over the past 8 years, slow recovery from the 2008 financial crisis has forced member countries to act together on many other important issues.

At the upcoming G20 summit, the host country, China, invites leaders from developing countries, such as Chad, chair of the African Union, Senegal, chair of the New Partnership for Africa's Development, Laos, chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and Egypt and Kazakhstan. 

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Economics: top agenda of the G20 summit

The G20 accounts for a colossal 85% of the global GDP and its trade accounts for more than 80% of the global total. The theme of this year’s summit is "Toward an Innovative, Invigorated, Interconnected and Inclusive World Economy." China said it would propose a stimulus plan for economic growth to give new momentum to the global economy through a new industrial revolution and a digitized economy, and to support dialogue among developed and emerging countries.

China expected participating countries to discuss key challenges to the global economy and to create a platform for cooperation to shift the G20 from a mechanism for crisis response to one for long-term governance guiding global economic growth. 

In order to achieve these goals, the summit will focus on innovative growth models, more effective global financial management, closer international trade and investment cooperation, and diverse forms of interaction. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during the summit China would host a high-level business conference-the biggest ever in the G20’s history and many discussions on economic policy relating to petroleum prices.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the G20 summit would play an important role in sustainable development of the global economy. The White House said that US President Barack Obama would attend summit, where he would emphasize the need to continue building on the progress made since 2009 in advancing strong, sustainable, and balanced global economic growth. He will underscore the importance of G20 cooperation in promoting a level playing field and broad-based economic opportunity.

Will territorial disputes be discussed?

This year’s G20 summit may not merely discuss economic issues as China has expected. Prior to the summit, politicians from G20 member countries implicitly mentioned their concerns on territorial disputes and freedom of navigation, particularly the East Sea issue.

US Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said President Obama would hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping on differences between the two countries, particularly on growing tensions in the East Sea.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, the only state leader from Southeast Asia attending the G20 summit, will deliver a speech on the East Sea. Relations between Jakarta and Beijing have been strained since early this year, when Chinese fishing boats traveled near Indonesia’s Natuna Island in the East Sea. In his speech on Indonesia's Independence Day in August, President Widodo pledged to defend “every inch” of Indonesia's land and maritime territory.

Territorial disputes have cast a shadow over China-Japan relations. On August 31, the Japanese Defense Ministry proposed a budget of US$51 billion for the 2017 fiscal year, part of it for defending Japan’s disputed island territories.


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