The Group of Seven major industrial nations in early November 2022 urged the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to abstain from “threats, coercion, intimidation, or the use of force,” while the United States highlighted the countries’ increasingly aligned approach toward dealing with Beijing.
In a communique issued after their two days of meetings, the foreign ministers of the world’s seven wealthiest democracies reiterated the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. They also expressed an aim for cooperation with the PRC where possible to tackle global health and climate challenges. (Pictured:
Officials gather for the Group of Seven Foreign Ministers Meeting in Muenster, Germany, in November 2022.)
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking to reporters after the meeting in Muenster, Germany, said G-7 countries sought to coordinate responses to the PRC’s increasingly assertive global posture.
“In our discussions here, we’re also clear-eyed about the need to align our approach to the PRC in the face of growing coercion and push back together against Beijing’s market-distorting policies and practices, which hurt workers and industries in all of our countries,” Blinken said.
The gathering coincided with a one-day visit by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to Beijing to meet Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping, the first such trip by a G-7 leader to China since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Scholz pressed Xi to prevail on Russia to end its invasion of Ukraine, saying Beijing has a responsibility as a major power to do so.
Blinken said Washington strongly supported Scholz’s reasons for his trip to Germany’s largest trading partner, including encouraging Xi to press Russian President Vladimir Putin “on never using a nuclear weapon of any kind.”
Western allies have accused Russia of threatening to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, which Moscow denies.
Blinken added that the convergence on the PRC among G-7 countries was “increasingly strong and increasingly clear.”
The G-7 communique said members remained “seriously concerned about the situation in and around the East and South China Seas” after the PRC in August 2022 staged war games near self-governed Taiwan.
Beijing claims Taiwan as its territory and increasingly threatens to forcibly seize the island.
“We remind China of the need … to abstain from threats, coercion, intimidation, or the use of force,” the communique said. “We strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion.”
Moreover, the G-7 said it would continue to raise concerns with the PRC on its reported human rights violations and abuses, including in Xinjiang and Tibet, and on the “continued erosion of Hong Kong’s rights, freedoms and autonomy.”
The CCP’s congress in October 2022, where Xi cemented his grip on power, increased G-7 countries’ recognition of Xi’s domestic and global ambitions and the need for a coordinated response, a U.S. State Department official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“That’s something that I think will be a focus of this group as we head into Japan’s presidency next year,” the official noted, referring to Japan assuming the G-7’s rotating presidency from Germany in 2023.
Sino-Japanese relations have long been plagued by a dispute over the Japanese-controlled Senkakus, a group of uninhabited East China Sea islands also claimed by the PRC.
As the G7 meeting ended, Japan’s Sankei newspaper reported that Tokyo and Beijing are planning a meeting between Xi and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for mid-November 2022.
“It is clear that China is … becoming much more assertive, much more on a self-reliant course,” European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who attended the G-7 meeting, told reporters. “But for the time being, many member states have a strong economic relationship with China, and I don’t think we can put China and Russia on the same level.”
IMAGE CREDIT: REUTERS