You know what they say: Give Pikachu and Kate Middleton a centimeter and they’ll win the news cycle.
Let’s get started.
What was today’s most memorable summit?
ALex Wickham, London Playbook Author:
Today’s line was after the family photo of leaders that Merkel urged Johnson to move on and told him “you are the leader.” Steady! The top-line announcement of a billion jabs and a plan to vaccinate the world by the end of next year is unlikely to set the G-7 on fire ̵
Anita Kumar, White House Correspondent & Associate Editor:
Greetings from Biden World, where I traveled with the President today. The moment that got the most attention from the small group of journalists in the White House I was with today was when Biden and Marcon wrapped their arms around each other and walked along St. Ives Bay towards the start of the summit. They had never met before, but they seemed to be participating in an animated conversation that included a talk on how to make democracies more effective for the middle class, one of Biden’s frequent mantras.
Ryan Heath, author of Global Translations:
For me, the foreplay today was the most important game. The Europeans naughtily alienated beforehand as a faction! The White House then announced that Angela Merkel would visit on 15 July. It’s just a matter of giving Mutti a farewell photo and a state dinner with a dessert called Cancel Nordstream II – named after the controversial gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, which the Biden administration hates.
David M. Herszenhorn, Chief Brussels Correspondent:
Five out of nine leaders are attending their first G7 summit, but the real news was having Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, the former president of the European Central Bank, ready to talk about the economic recovery following the pandemic. Draghi spoke secondly after Biden, and Boris Johnson introduced him, recalling how he was at an investor conference in London (as the city’s mayor) in 2012, when Draghi effectively saved the euro currency in three words: “whatever it takes.” Today, Draghi said there was a “convincing case” for continued expansionary fiscal policy, but also said there was a need to reassure markets for a possible return to fiscal prudence. Usually, managers need to outsource for that kind of wisdom of central bankers.
Karl Matheisen, senior climate correspondent:
The G-7 climate Pickachu protests. Giant yellow Pikachus fell on Cornwall to push alleged Pokémon fan Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on his bullet policy. The moral: “being inside a Pikachu costume is like the worst global warming imaginable. Hot, sweaty and constantly afraid of falling into the sea. ”
(Editor’s note: We live in interesting times. Local Cornwall police initially thought the Pickachu mob was a bullying bachelor party, President Biden’s motorcade avoided protesters dressed as jellyfish.)
Now for the big news: Kate Middleton finds a new American bestie, FLOTUS!
Nahal Toosi, Foreign Affairs Correspondent:
We need to find out exactly how Kate Middleton treated Meghan Markle. This should have been the first woman’s primary mission, and the American public should expect a report.
Alex Wickham, London Playbook author:
Here is a half answer. An American reporter managed to get a news line out of Kate and asked about Harry and Meghan’s new daughter Lilibet. Kate word: “I wish her the very best. I can not wait to meet her. We have not met her yet, I hope it will be soon. No Royal FaceTime has taken place yet.
Kumar: Alex is right. The Duchess made a little news – and the event with Jill Biden can just overshadow the G-7 completely in certain media.
Rym Momtaz, Paris answers:
More seriously, FLOTUS talking about early childhood issues with Kate Middleton is a striking choice. Jill Biden is a lifelong teacher, and the Duchess has been working on the issue for years now.
Heat: I feel like wearing Melania’s “I don’t care, do I?” jacket for this question. But to keep it serious: women rarely get news at G-7 summits. For most of her 16 years in power Angela Merkel has been the only woman at the summit. Also the official photographer excluded both Merkel and EU Ursula von der Leyen in the official picture! 🤦♂️ You can not say that women do not care: One went 84 miles to conduct a personal protest outside the summit.
China is the elephant in space. Discuss.
Toosi: Dealing with the emergence of authoritarian-led China is the big question, and it is a point of tension among the United States and some of its European allies. Germany’s Angela Merkel is concerned about maintaining and growing trade with Beijing. France’s Emmanuel Macron has said that Europe needs its own China strategy independent of the United States. Yet there is growing concern in Europe over the ultimate goal of the Chinese Communist Party, and while we may not have complete unity in all aspects, Biden has a good shot at convincing European counterparts to be more cautious in their ties to China.
Stuart Lau, EU-China correspondent:
EU officials have come a long way. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen today publicly agreed to create a transatlantic partnership to tackle China, tweeting after her meeting with Biden: “A close transatlantic unity is essential to meet today’s challenges – from dealing with China to protect our climate, ”Beijing is not going to like this hardening position of the EU, which it sees as getting closer and closer to the US position – from talking about Taiwan to implementing a strategy for the Indo-Pacific. Macron also warned that it would not be appropriate for NATO to prioritize China.
Heat: The G-7 also needs China in a way – as an organizing force and to keep it relevant. The club has gone from supplying 80 percent of global GDP when it was formed in 1975, down to 45 percent today. David Cameron had this brilliant line about Prime Minister Tony Blair when he first took him to the House of Commons: “You were the future once.” I think a lot about that line at these summits with Western powers.
Mathiesen: It’s not just that, Ryan. Next to the declining share of GDP, China now emits more carbon than G7 combined. It is a major shift in control over the future of climate stability. Much depends on whether the G7 can get their action in line and send a clear message to China that they will start running ahead in a completely pure tech revolution. If not, there will not be much impetus for Beijing to turn the wheel harder than it is at the moment.
Andy Blatchford, Canada correspondent:
Trudeau came to the G-7 with the intention of again seeking support from allies – and especially the United States – in what he calls China’s “arbitrary” detention of two Canadians. On Friday, far away from the G-7 summit, the prime minister received an assist. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is pushing for the immediate release of Canadians who were “wrongfully” detained in China during a phone call with top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi, according to a US reading. Canada has hoped for high-level direct pressure from the United States against Beijing over the detentions of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, popularly known as the “two Michaels.” The men were gathered more than 900 days ago in an apparent retaliation over Canadian authorities’ arrest in December 2018 of Huawei chief executive Meng Wanzhou on a US extradition order. All three arrests have severely damaged bilateral diplomatic relations, and for Trudeau, the release of the two Michaels has become one of the biggest foreign policy issues.
Do leaders get up to something spicy in their bilateral meetings and social time?
Kumar: Biden saw the queen after 40 long years! It’s remarkable, but the White House tells us that Biden last met the Queen in 1982. Bidens attended a reception at the Eden Project, an eco-park in Bodelva that has several giant domes that house what it calls the largest rainforest in captivity. He was joined by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge. Alas, White House Press Corps was shut out of the event, otherwise I would tell you more.
Herszenhorn: It’s Turkey against Italy as Group A of the 2020 Football Championship begins at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, and we expect Mario Draghi and Emannuel Macron to try to capture some of the match. Macron has been known for coming out of the European Council summits to control the score when Marseille play.
Heat: Boris Johnson ran (not as fast as Justin Trudeau) and swam in the ocean at dawn. Nothing of him has yet been seen on the $ 6,000 handmade bike, and Joe Biden gave it to him Thursday from Philadelphia-based Bilenky Cycle Works. Will be interesting to see if Trudeau continues to wear the mask when he thinks the cameras are off, or if it’s pure theater for Covid-limited domestic Canadian audiences. Trudeau has form when it comes to top faux pas.
What do we do with the G-7 special guests: India, South Africa, South Korea and Australia?
Toosi: India’s presence is understandable given its size, economic imports and its relationship with China. However, you have to wonder if any of the G-7 states will dare to question the decline in democracy and human rights in India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I guess they will not.
Heat: You bet right, Nahal! This guest list is about Boris Johnson getting the British Empire band back together (with K-Pop cameo). Did you know that British officials have a phrase for it: “One Queen, One Team.” Of course, Canada is already a G-7 member, and India and South Africa are republics now, but you get the point. Boris wants to push as many sympathetic countries as possible into the G-7, making it a British wheelhouse rather than a US advisory forum or EU club helping him take on Churchill’s cloak. Asking questions to Modi is not part of that Playbook. Australia, on the other hand, is just the right size to kick around for bad climate action … just as soon as it signs the UK trade agreement.
Sat: Beijing has been quite critical of Australia and Japan, which together with India and the United States make up the Quad Security Group. South Korea is the weak link here: a day before the G7, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called his counterpart in Seoul and suggested that South Korea “not go astray.”
Esther Webber, Senior British Correspondent:
Do not forget the complicated history of Japan and South Korea. A 2018 ruling in South Korea ruled that Mitsubishi should pay compensation to families of forced laborers during World War II, which increased tensions. So Japan slowed exports of sensitive materials used in technology production for South Korea and destroying global supply chains. There is also a territorial dispute between the two nations that is getting more attention due to an Olympic card.
What’s next? Boris Johnson has possibly created the biggest G7 clash of all: he has scheduled the final press conference to coincide with an international football match between England and Croatia, which is not the best way to sell foreign policy to the English middle class.