Josep Borrell Admits: The West Is Losing the Global Battle of Narrative

The hopes of the United States and Europe to align developing countries behind their anti-Russia and anti-China policy were brutally dashed at the meeting of G20 foreign ministers in Bali, Indonesia July 7-8. The growing divide was openly admitted — apparently to his surprise — by Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief in a statement posted on the EU’s website.

Concerning the war in Ukraine, he wrote that “The G7 and like-minded countries are united in condemning and sanctioning Russia and in trying to hold the regime accountable. But other countries, and we can speak here of the majority of the ‘Global South,’ often take a different perspective…. The global battle of narratives is in full swing and, for now, we are not winning.” (Of course, he implicitly accused those “other countries” of being unprincipled and corrupt, which can only exacerbate the clash.)

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, for his part, accused the G7 representatives of undermining the purpose of the G20, which is to address global economic issues, by focusing all the discussion on Russia. After several meetings on the sidelines with other counterparts, he left the meeting early, explaining that “perhaps there is nothing to talk about with the West”. In fact, as a rule, the main sessions of the G20 are less productive and meaningful than the more restricted discussions.

China’s foreign minister Wang Yi, for one, used the occasion to meet with at least ten of his counterparts, including India’s foreign minister S. Jaishankar, who will host the event next year, and Sergei Lavrov, during which he stressed that the Ukraine crisis should not be used to stir up a “Cold War mentality”. In his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Wang also sternly warned Washington against playing the “Taiwan card” and to abandon the “zero sum game”.

While Chinese officials generally use diplomatic language, the Global Times does not have the same constraints. In a July 7 article commenting on Secretary of State Blinken’s intentions for the Bali meeting, the daily reminded him and his allies that the G20 “is neither an exclusive club of the West, nor a platform possessed by the U.S.. A majority of countries across the world did not join the West-led sanctions against Russia, and the G20 is composed of many developing countries that don’t dance to the U.S.’s tune.” Unlike the G7, it continues, the G20 represents emerging powers “that seek solutions to challenges such as economic turbulence and food crises, rather than divide the world by creating more geopolitical conflicts.”

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