May 28, 2024

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World leaders gather in Bali for G20 amid geopolitical turmoil

World leaders gather in Bali for G20 amid geopolitical turmoil
A sign for the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia.

The flags of G20 member nations are flown ahead of the G20 Summit in Nusa Dua, Bali island on November 13, 2022. (Photo by ADEK BERRY/AFP via Getty Images)

BALI, Indonesia — Delegations from 19 countries and the European Union are converging in Indonesia for the annual G20 leaders summit this week amid intensifying geopolitical competition and crisis in several regions around the world.

Why it matters: Pressing global issues from climate change to food insecurity to looming recession are on the agenda at the meeting in the tropical resort island of Bali. But divisions over the war in Ukraine could derail discussions, analysts say.

State of play: President Biden will meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Monday in their first in-person meeting since Biden became president.

  • Biden will also hold bilateral meetings with new UK prime minister Rishi Sunak, Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni, and Indonesian president Joko Widodo. 
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the summit, despite Indonesia’s invitation. The summit would have marked his first time to appear publicly at an event with leaders of Western countries since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov will lead the Russian delegation.

Background: Division over Russia’s war in Ukraine dominated the last G20 meeting, held between foreign ministers in July, as western nations pushed for language supporting Ukraine while India, China, Indonesia and Brazil resisted. 

Between the lines: “As the leading economies in the world try to create a world order, it’s difficult because the countries contributing to disorder are part of the [same] group, Drew Thompson, visiting fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, told Axios.

  • “This is the problem of inclusivity when there isn’t an alignment of interests,” Thompson said.

Geopolitics is also top of mind for business leaders gathered for a parallel set of meetings known as the B20. 

  • “This year’s B20 Summit takes place amidst intensified geopolitical turmoil, as well as concerns that globalization has failed to effect equitable gains,” Arsjad Rasjid, Chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said in a statement.
  • “We must collectively come together to support this fragile economic recovery, and ensure peace and prosperity for all going forward.”

What to watch: If the participating leaders are able to issue a joint communique by the end of the summit. 

  • Such joint statements are often broad and lack specific details, in order to accommodate the disparate interests of many different delegations.
  • But if no communique is issued, it means divisions were so insurmountable that even a vague statement wasn’t possible — a bad omen for global cooperation in an era of crisis.