HIROSHIMA – The Group of Seven wealthy democracies united in urging China to pressure its strategic partner Russia to end its war on Ukraine and resolve territorial disputes peacefully, and China lashed back.
In a joint statement, the G7 leaders emphasized they did not want to harm China and were seeking “constructive and stable relations” with Beijing, “recognizing the importance of engaging candidly with and expressing our concerns directly to China.”
“We call on China to press Russia to stop its military aggression, and immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw its troops from Ukraine,” said the statement Saturday. “We encourage China to support a comprehensive, just and lasting peace based on territorial integrity and the principles and purposes of the U.N. Charter,” including in direct talks with Ukraine.
Cooperation with China is needed given its global role and economic size, the group said, in appealing for working together on challenges such as climate change, biodiversity, debts and financing needs of of vulnerable countries, global health concerns and economic stability.
But the leaders expressed “serious concern” about the situation in the East and South China seas, where Beijing has been expanding its military presence and threatening to use force to exert its control over self-governed Taiwan. They called for a “peaceful resolution” of China's claim to Taiwan, which has remained unresolved since the communists gained power on the Chinese mainland in 1949.
The statement said there was “no legal basis for China’s expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea, and we oppose China’s militarization activities in the region."
“A growing China that plays by international rules would be of global interest,” the statement said, alluding to charges that Beijing is undermining the “rules-based international order.”
The G7 also united in voicing concerns about human rights in China, including in Tibet, in Hong Kong and in the far western region of Xinjiang, where the issue of forced labor is a perennial issue.
But the statement also sought to counter accusations that the G7 is seeking to prevent China's rise as a global power.
“Our policy approaches are not designed to harm China nor do we seek to thwart China’s economic progress and development,” it said. The statement highlighted a consensus that efforts to diversify manufacturing supply chains and ensure stable access to strategically vital minerals and other resources is not aimed at unraveling trade ties with the world's second-largest economy.
“We are not decoupling or turning inwards," the statement said. “At the same time, we recognize that economic resilience requires de-risking and diversifying. We will take steps, individually and collectively, to invest in our own economic vibrancy. We will reduce excessive dependencies in our critical supply chains.”
At the same time, the G7 members vowed to take a stand against various types of “economic coercion,” saying they “will counter malign practices, such as illegitimate technology transfer or data disclosure,” while also avoiding “unduly limiting trade and investment.”
Chinese officials have reacted to various G7 statements about economic coercion and other issues with outrage.
In a statement, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the G7 “used issues concerning China to smear and attack China and brazenly interfere in China’s internal affairs. China strongly deplores and firmly opposes this and has made serious démarches to the summit’s host Japan and other parties concerned.”
“The G7 needs to stop pointing fingers at China on Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet and take a hard look at their own history and human rights record,” it said.
Taiwan, meanwhile, thanked the G7 for its support.
“Taiwan will stand alongside with democracies and communities of the world to cooperate in defusing the risks,” its president, Tsai Ing-wen said Saturday. “Nowadays, the consensus around the world is very clear, which is the fact that cross-strait issues have to be solved in a peaceful manner. War is not an option," she said at a news conference.
Apart from Japan, this year's host of the leader's annual summit, the G7 includes the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada and Italy and the European Union.
The G7 statement was released on the second day of a three-day summit. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived in Hiroshima on Saturday to participate in meetings planned for Sunday.