Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has welcomed an invitation from U.S. President Donald Trump to join an expanded Group of Seven (G7) meeting of advanced economies alongside South Korea, India, and Russia, with China being the noticeable omission.
“It’s a good opportunity to deal with a lot of like-minded countries,” Morrison told 2GB radio on June 1, saying he was “expecting an invitation there.”
A spokesperson for the prime minister said, “The G7 has been a topic of recent high-level exchange.”
“Strengthening international co-operation among like-minded countries is valued at a time of unprecedented global challenges,” said the spokesperson.
Morrison attended last year’s G7 meeting as a guest of French President Emmanuel Macron.
Trump told reporters on Air Force One on May 31 he had postponed the upcoming iteration of the G7 saying the current format included a “very outdated group of countries.”
“I’m postponing it because I don’t feel that as a G7, it properly represents what’s going on in the world,” he said.
White House spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said Trump wanted the expanded G7 to discuss China. The new list of invitees to the G7 are geographically close to the country.
The G7 currently includes the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan. Russia was omitted in 2014 following its annexation of Crimea.
The call for Australia to join the G7 comes not long after the United Kingdom on May 29, announced a D10 alliance of democratic nations to create technology supply chains, independent of Chinese companies such as Huawei. One key focus of the D10 group will be developing 5G technology.
Australia was invited to the D10, along with South Korea, India, and the G7 nations, barring Russia and China.
The announcement comes in the wake of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson reversing his decision to allow Huawei to develop the country’s 5G network.
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Anthony Bergin, senior fellow at the Australia Strategic Policy Institute, told The Epoch Times on June 1 that the invitation from the U.S. for Australia to join the G7 was a sign the nation is “recognised as a very significant country.”
“It would allow Australia to use a potentially powerful multilateral group to pursue Australia’s interests across a whole range of issues in economics, technology cooperation, health security issues etc.”
Australia has traditionally seen itself as a “middle power,” a term popularised by former Foreign Minister Gareth Evans while working under the Hawke-Keating government in the 1980s.
According to Evans, “middle power diplomacy” referred to countries that did not have the capability or power to influence events globally, like the United States, but could make “major contributions” to specific regions or areas of interest.
Subsequent political leaders, such as former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, and former Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop, have used the term when describing Australia’s international role.
“We’ve shied away as a really significant power because Australia felt ‘at ease’ in our own neighbourhood rather than ‘rising above the pack,’” Bergin told The Epoch Times.
He said the current prime minister’s willingness to join the G7 demonstrates Morrison’s understanding that Australia will emerge from the pandemic “stronger than many other countries.”
“Given the fact Australia has emerged in the post-COVID era as even more potentially influential, given our record in dealing with the pandemic, now is the time to think big in terms of Australia’s role in the world.”
In 2019, UK-based think tank the Henry Jackson Society published the Audit of Geopolitical Capability concluding that Australia had a larger influence on global affairs than Russia, India, and Italy. The society also advocated for Australia’s inclusion in an expanded G7.