Key Takeaways From G-20 Summit Featuring Biden, Xi And No Putin
World leaders gathered in Bali in a G20 summit dominated by the fallout from Russia’s war in Ukraine on the global economy.
(Bloomberg) -- World leaders gathered on the resort island of Bali in a Group of 20 summit dominated by the fallout from Russia’s war in Ukraine on the global economy.
The meeting hosted by Indonesia began shortly after US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping held their first in-person meeting as leaders and agreed to resume cooperation in key areas. It ended with a joint declaration in which most members “strongly condemned” Vladimir Putin’s invasion.
Here are the key takeaways:
Coming into the G-20, all the buzz surrounded the meeting between Xi and Biden -- and they didn’t didn’t disappoint. In talks that ran for more than three hours, the heads of the world’s biggest economies pledged to work together on global challenges like climate change and food security, moving past the acrimony that has defined relations since the pandemic emerged in 2020.
While key differences remain, particularly over Taiwan and US curbs on advanced chip sales to China, the overall temperature has dropped considerably. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called the meeting a “new starting point,” saying both sides “hope to stop the tumbling of bilateral ties and to stabilize the relationship.”
In a year in which Russian aggression has rocked global geopolitics and markets, perhaps it’s no surprise that a crisis would emerge while most of the world’s most powerful leaders gathered in Bali. On the final day of the gathering, they awoke to find that a rocket struck a village in Poland -- raising concerns that Russia had attacked NATO territory.
Biden and other Group of Seven leaders convened an emergency meeting to discuss the meeting, delaying a scheduled tour of a mangrove forest. In the end, they issued a statement supporting Poland’s probe while seeking to prevent the situation from escalating.
Heading into the meeting, it was unclear if the group would agree on a final communique: Lower-level G-20 gatherings this year ended in acrimony, and the US and Russia failed to reach a consensus just days before at an Asean summit in Cambodia.
In the end, however, leaders rallied around Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s push to produce a joint declaration. A compromise in the language produced a statement saying “most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine,” while acknowledging “other views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions.”
Xi Plays Nice
In only his second trip outside of China since Covid-19 shut down the world, a jovial Xi shed his mask and mingled at close range with other leaders -- a scene that contrasts starkly with his last visit abroad in September. Perhaps more crucially, Xi cast himself as a “statesman” and sought to repair relations that frayed in the early days of the pandemic.
Xi met other US allies after his chat with Biden, including Australian leader Anthony Albanese, whose country got pummeled by Chinese trade reprisals after his predecessor called for a probe into the origins of Covid-19. The Chinese leader is set to continue his charm offensive later this week by meeting Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
Speculation over whether Putin would attend the Bali meetings had persisted for months. In the end he chose to stay away, sending Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in his place. The diplomat ended up staying in the meeting room during remarks by Ukraine leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy via video conference, then fired back with often-made but unsubstantiated accusations -- including a claim that Russia was fighting neo-Nazis in Ukraine.
Lavrov later repeated false claims by Moscow that US biolabs were operating in Ukraine and alleged the WHO had blocked a Russian vaccine, claims Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called “absolute garbage.” Lavrov ended up leaving Bali before the end of the meeting.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan entered the fray as a surprise power broker on some of the biggest issues discussed during the summit, thanks in part to his continued ties with Putin. In Bali, the 68-year-old leader won praise from Biden in an unannounced meeting for his work brokering a deal to continue grain shipments from Ukraine despite Russia’s invasion of the country.
At the end of the summit, Erdogan announced the so-called Black Sea initiative would likely continue, with Turkey acting as a conduit for some 11 million tons of grain to the world market. He also said Biden mentioned positive developments on Turkey’s bid to acquire F-16 warplanes, signaling the NATO allies were moving past tensions over Erdogan’s purchase of a Russian air defense system.
Jokowi in the Spotlight
As the world’s fourth-most populous country, Indonesia has long punched below its weight on international affairs. Yet in Bali, President Widodo -- known locally as Jokowi -- rose to the occasion.
Whether driving leaders around in a golf cart or leading them in planting trees in punishing heat, Indonesia’s smiling, soft-spoken leader set the tone for a summit that showed unity was possible in a year marred by war, surging inflation and rising geopolitical tensions. And to top it off, he walked away with $20 billion in financing to help Indonesia pivot away from coal.
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