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Osaka And The World’s Board of Directors

Osaka And The World’s Board of Directors

Monday, 1 July, 2019 - 09:15
Ghassan Charbel
Ghassan Charbel is the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

Did US President Donald Trump get from the Osaka Summit what he was planning to or desiring? Has Chinese President Xi Jinping returned home comfortable with avoiding or delaying a trade war with America? Has Russian President Vladimir Putin returned to the Kremlin satisfied with the results of his participation and his appearance? Did Prince Mohammed bin Salman come back to his Kingdom pleased with the results of his involvement in the summit?

It is clear that America remains at the forefront of major powers. Tensions provoked by Trump’s surprises to his opponents and allies have not diminished the country’s role. It remains the strongest economy and the toughest military machine.

Trump’s method twisted the US lines of alliance and rivalry with the countries of the world; but this president, originally from outside the traditional dictionary, is good at handling surprises with more surprises and shocks. Through mutual flexibility, the slide towards an open trade war has been curbed, and the resumption of talks has been approved.

The White House master surprised his European allies when he took a tolerant attitude towards the giant Huawei, weeks after he was talking about its danger and calling for its boycott. It is, therefore, possible to say that the Chinese president was also satisfied. Trump did not miss the opportunity. He crowned his presence in Osaka with a resounding surprise when he became the first US president to walk, even a few steps, on the soil of Kim Il-sung.

One can also say that Putin came back home happy. Days proved that he was a necessary partner, despite the annexation of the Crimea, the destabilization of Ukraine and the response to NATO's movement along the borders of his country with painful messages, in addition to his military intervention in Syria.

The Saudi crown prince was also comfortable. Riyadh will host the G20 summit next year, and this event has an impact on Saudi Arabia’s international presence and the circumstances in the Gulf region.

Mohammed bin Salman’s meetings were the hallmarks of the summit. It is not only the heartfelt talk that Trump echoed in front of the cameras. The warm welcome to the Crown Prince was evident from the host country and the leaders of the big countries, including Putin, who will visit Saudi Arabia next fall.

The broad international satisfaction with the reform and modernization workshop led by Prince Mohammed bin Salman was palpable. Shinzo Abe was keen to repeat the praise.

In covering the G20 Summit, the reporter has a feeling of intimidation unlike in other international gatherings. This date is far more important than the oratorical festival of the regular session of the United Nations General Assembly, where many go to promote their policies, while weak states go to shed their tears. It is certainly more important than regional summits that are often concerned with agreeing on the vocabulary of a final statement rather than to deal effectively with crises and tensions.

There is no exaggeration to say that the G20 concerns every member of the cosmopolitan village, whether in crowded capitals or countryside longing for progress and prosperity.

The summit concerns them because it revolves around financial and economic stability, commercial exchange, sustainable development, prosperity and investment. It is the locomotive of progress in a world where a revolution is no longer a much-awaited event, but day-to-day produce of laboratories, which place nations and peoples in front of a single option - to adapt to a rapidly changing world.

The image of the participants sitting around the G20 table gives you the impression that they are members of the board of directors of the world, and that a sense of the interdependence of destinies controls their decisions, no matter the fierce competition and the policy of conflicts.

On this globalized planet, you cannot rejoice when a big competitor’s economy drowns, because you have to contribute to the drowning bill.

Perhaps this feeling is what forces the competing parties to cool their vocabulary and search for compromises. Political differences impact the discussions, but the fear of a return to severe financial crises and economic meltdowns curbs the rhetoric of confrontation and favors the language of settlement.

A look at the G20 participants is sufficient. Their countries represent about two-thirds of the planet's population, the same proportion of world trade. Their countries have the most powerful economies, the largest arsenals, the most sophisticated laboratories, the best education systems, and perhaps the most important among them is who leads this enormous technological revolution, and this amazing digital transformation.

In Osaka, I had the feeling that the summit in Japan is more important than the one held in Argentina last year, for several reasons. It is a summit held in this Asian depth, which is said to soon become the heart of the world and the engine of its progress, with all that this means at the economic, political and social levels.

The transfer of economic weight to this part of the planet is a major change in the features of the post-World War II era and the rubble of the Soviet Union.

The summit was held at a time when a trade war between America and China was lurking - a war threatening to unleash a new Cold War worldwide, especially after Vladimir Putin was keen to crystallize a Russian-Chinese axis, which was obvious in regional crises and inside the Security Council.

Experts say China will be the new Soviet Union for the United States, with a striking difference that it is a huge locomotive, both in terms of population and economy.

Osaka stole the lights when it hosted the world’s board of directors. Abe ran the meeting brilliantly, especially when he gave priority to reviving the US-China dialogue. Osaka has gained its share and opportunity. Now, Riyadh has to prepare for its big date.

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