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Asia

Sieren's China: The mature states' club

The G7 isn't obsolete, and it doesn't need China to join the group. As DW columnist Frank Sieren argues, the G7 should instead focus on its own concerns.

These days, the G7 states are a lot like pensioners. They may have reached retirement age, but they still feel too fit and important to actually retire. For a long time, they dictated the rules the world played by. But ambitious states, like China and India, are gaining in importance, and are slowly beginning to take over the day-to-day business, even if the old folks still counter them. They don't want to accept that the G7 states today are but one platform among many. It's time they learned to focus on their interests.

It's been a while that they spoke for a global majority. They represent the interests of mature industrialized countries - they worry about slow growth, large debt and aging populations. Mainly, however, they are concerned with the question of how to handle their diminishing power.

Including China in the G7 as a kind of rejuvenating therapy would be a mistake at this point. It would make the G7 even more sluggish than the club already is. China would be the 'odd man out' in the club. Instead, the G7 should become an alternative to the BRICS states of emerging countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

BRICS states have a different agenda

Bearing that in mind, it makes sense that Russia is no longer allowed to be in the G8. The Russians are a better fit with the up-and-coming BRICS states than the old G7. The BRICS countries are occupied with entirely different issues: How to achieve stable growth, integrate into the global economy and create sustainable economic growth?

Frank Sieren

DW columnist Frank Sieren

The BRICS states have already passed their first practical test. When the G7 showed Moscow the red card, the BRICS states refrained from participating in the sanctions and instead supported Putin by boosting economic cooperation.

That more than anything highlighted the contrast between the BRICS and the G7 states. From now on, G7 and BRICS states must agree on common goals within their respective groups. That is the only way to allow G20 meetings to come up with decisions.

Apart from the club of the mature (G7), the club of the wild ones (BRICS) and the club of the important states (G20), there should be a small, more agile forum: virtually, the club of the powerful, the G3 that would include China, the US and the EU. They are the world's leading players today. Where time is of the essence, the G3 could meet; where it isn't, the G20 could gather.

The Elmau summit, however, is proof that the old guard doesn't want to accept the new times but wants to hold on to its previous claim to power. That's why the G7 summit came across as a bit dated - dated enough that Beijing wasn't even miffed that it wasn't invited to have coffee with the old folks.

DW columnist Frank Sieren has lived in Beijing for 20 years.

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