The G20’s Balinese dance and Biden’s calming words

Balinese culture, a perpetual exercise in sophisticated subtlety, makes no distinction between the secular and the supernatural – sekala and niskala.

Sekala is what our senses may discern. As in the ritualized gestures of world leaders – real and minor – at a highly polarized G20.

Niskala is what cannot be sensed directly and can only be “suggested.” And that also applies to geopolitics.

  • prevent conflict and confrontation, leading to peaceful coexistence;
  • benefit from each other’s development; and
  • promote post-COVID global recovery, tackle climate change and face regional problems via coordination.

Significantly, the three-and-a-half-hour meeting happened at the Chinese delegation’s residence in Bali, and not at the G20 venue. And it was requested by the White House.

Biden, according to the Chinese, affirmed that the US does not seek a New Cold War; does not support “Taiwan independence”; does not support “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan”; does not seek “decoupling” from China; and does not want to contain China.

Now tell that to the Straussians/neo-cons/neoliberalcons bent on containing China. Reality spells out that Xi has few reasons to take “Biden” – rather the combo writing every script in the background – at face value. So, as it stands, we remain in niskala.

That zero-sum game

Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo was dealt a terrible hand: how to hold a G20 to discuss food and energy security, sustainable development and climate issues when everything under the sun is polarized by the war in Ukraine.

Widodo did his best, urging all at the G20 to “end the war,” with a subtle hint that “being responsible means creating not-zero-sum situations.”