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Japan Diary

May 31, 2020

Mr.Trump ditches G7 only to make things worse for the US

US President Trump contemplates to host a new-format summit in September, G7 plus four others (India, South Korea, Russia and Australia: the order is GDP-wise).

In this way Mr. Trump will ultimately ditch G7, which, in his view, is now "outdated", but in fact remains as the most powerful body sharing democracy and market-economy. More "up-to-date" gatherings like G20 and BRICS have revealed their ineffectiveness.

What does Mr.Trump want to achieve by the new format? Democracy or free trade in the world? No, he proposes to discuss the "future of China" but without their participation.

Such an attempt may well backfire on him, because many invitees will hesitate to come; they all share apprehension about China, but they want to avoid unnecessary confrontation. Even Japan is not in a solid position, because if armed conflict arises between the US and China, Japan will be the target of Chinese numerous missiles and because Japan knows that even Trump-san will not be able to prevent it.

South Korea is in even more fragile position vis-à-vis China.

India will disappoint those, who believe that she will always stand against China; the things is that India is conducting a delicate act of balance between cooperation and vigilance with China. India would not want a permanent and unequivocal confrontation.

The prospect is much less with Russia. She is eager to improve relations with the US, but not at the cost of losing her most reliable quasi ally (against the US) , China.

Germany and France are now strengthening their cooperation in the EU. If Germany decides to take upon herself more financial burden for the EU, it will raise the status of not only Euro as world currency but also of Europe in general. Moreover, their economic relations with China are no less important than their economic relations with the US. So, they may not flatly decline but politely propose to further shift the date of the summit until, say, December....

In such a way Mr. Trump's idea will reveal to what degree he has demolished the delicately-built global framework only to make US position isolated.

He not only neglects but even antagonizes the most reliable allies for the US, that is the mid-sized democratic and civilized powers. If you add up the GDP of Japan, Germany, France, Australia, New Zealand, Benelux and Nordic countries, it slightly exceeds the size of US's GDP. And they all share the values of democracy and market economy, which Mr.Trump rarely or never mentions.

I would not make any articulate proposal. I just wanted to draw your attention to the facts.