President Obama received an especially cold reception at the G20 Economic Forum being held in China for the past two days. The Chinese did not provide stairs for Air Force One, forcing Obama to disembark the plane through an emergency exit where he was met with a loud verbal altercation between Chinese officials and security. The geopolitical tensions between the US and China represented by these petty displays are only a snapshot of the great shifts in regional power and alliances happening right now. The G20 summits serve as a forum for member nations to negotiate and coordinate monetary, fiscal, and structural reforms to encourage economic cooperation and sustainable growth. Given the fact that the leaders of the West are looking at a looming currency war with Russia and China, each party was attempting to shore up support for their own side.
President Obama spent a lot of time at the forum offering assurances, attempting to mend fences, and putting out fires. Since there are only five months remaining in his term of service, the President’s priority is to seek short -term stability on the international stage to paint a rosier picture for the Democrats in the upcoming elections. That means a very limited form of compromise, but no more new policy formation from the administration. Consequently, the US has no alternative deal to offer to Central Asia and the Pacific Rim nations to answer China and Russia’s recent economic projects like the New Silk Road Initiative, Siberian oil and gas development, and economic unions in Eurasia and the South China Sea. The main effort of Obama’s trip to Hangzhou centered on the proxy war zones of the Ukraine and Syria, where Obama and Secretary Kerry met with Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov to discuss cease-fires in both nations.
Although no agreement was ultimately reached, the article spells out the negotiations between the US and Russia. Although both leaders agreed that they had found common ground, the US refused to lift economic sanctions on Russia for the Crimean invasion and stipulated a return to the Minsk agreement which was broken days after it was signed. Putin accused the West of being unwilling to compromise, and the talks ultimately failed.
Dealing with the irascible Chinese, the President managed to work out an agreement on environmental reforms and avoiding competitive currency devaluations, promising not to manipulate exchange rates for their own benefit in a currency war.
However, when the issue of Chinese aggression in the South China Sea was brought up, China was unapologetic and remained focused on economic discourse to avoid the topic. One participant in that discourse was Australia, with China leveling accusations of protectionism and market interference after two large Chinese buyouts of Australian businesses were blocked. The Chinese also expressed displeasure at Australian surveillance flights over island chains in the South China Sea. Pressure on Australia has been building to pick one side over the other, with China offering potential economic benefits only if the influence of the US is pushed out of the Pacific Rim.
Obama also had his work cut out dealing with the sensitive situation with Erdogan in Turkey. Still seeking the extradition of alleged coup plotter Fethullah Gulen, Erdogan was preparing more evidence and further consultations with American counterparts to push for Gulen’s return to Turkey. Whether or not the Globalists are willing to offer up Gulen, rumored to be a Clinton asset, to a dictator who has recently pledged to reinstate the death penalty is an interesting dilemma presented to the Globalists by the Turks. Obama also pressed for a cessation on the Turkish campaigns against the Kurds, another regional cultural/ethnic group friendly with the US who have had a long, tumultuous history with the Turks.
Talking about the prospects for cooperation between Moscow and London, the Russian leader said the Kremlin is “ready to restore relations with the UK and go in this as far as they want us to.” While Russia is ready to work on the matter, Putin said that British Prime Minister Theresa May had just taken office and “needs to deal with domestic issues.”
Putin is correct, as the “domestic issues” May is dealing with involve the backlash from the Brexit. EU head bureaucrat Jean-Claude Juncker again refused to provide Britain access to the European Common Market until the British reverted their position on immigration policy. Interestingly, Australia called for a trade agreement with Britain to keep markets open between the two countries, short circuiting the EU’s punitive measures against the UK. These two countries were part of the old British Empire, and if there are further attempts to coordinate economic cooperation between the UK and its former colonies, we could be seeing a revival of the British commonwealth in response to the EU’s monopoly over continental Europe.
The recent G20 summit resembles a microcosm of the recent geopolitical shifts around the world, and the brewing currency war between the Western allies and Russia and China cast a long shadow over the discussions. Considering how President Obama is nearing the end of his term, restoring relations and “perception management” was the priority for the Globalist front man. Putin, Theresa May, and Erdogan, the three populist leaders turned political pariahs by the Globalists they stood up to, seemed to have benefited the most from G20, taking time to normalize relations with others and forming new agreements with new allies. If anything, the recent events in Hangzhou point to big changes and a lot of uncertainty on the global stage.