The G7 is set to issue its strongest condemnation of China, as the world’s most advanced economies step up their response to what they say are growing military and economic security threats posed by Beijing.
In broad criticism of China on everything from its militarization of the South China Sea to its use of “economic coercionthe G7 urged Beijing to push Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine, according to a joint statement obtained by the Financial Times.
G7 members said they were “seriously concerned” about the situation in the East and South China Seas, and “strongly oppose any unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force or coercion.” They also called for a “peaceful solution” to the increasing tension across the Taiwan Strait.
G7 members also said they “stand ready to establish constructive and stable relations” with Beijing, but acknowledged the importance of “openly engaging.” . . and express our concerns directly to China”.
The statement marks the strongest criticism of Beijing by the G7, which first mentioned China in a statement two years ago when the leaders met in the UK.
At the three-day summit in Hiroshima, the United States and its Democratic allies sought to project unity in the face of deepening global division caused by the war in Ukraine, the US-China dispute, global warming and the spread of artificial intelligence.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian president, landed in Hiroshima on Saturday afternoon, before his participation in Sunday’s sessions devoted to the war in Ukraine.
Zelenskyy, whose participation was kept secret until yesterday, upon his arrival in Japan wrote on Twitter: “Japan. G7. Important meetings with partners and friends of Ukraine. Security and enhanced cooperation for our victory. Peace will come closer today.
A Ukrainian official traveling with Zelenskyy told the FT that the main Ukrainian goals at the summit were to lobby for support for Kiev’s peace plan; ensure more military support and cooperation, particularly with regard to air defenses and combat aircraft, with an emphasis on long-term safeguards; convince allies to increase sanctions pressure on Russia; and discuss further steps to hold Moscow accountable for its invasion.
The increasingly tough stance on China comes after two years of the U.S. and Japan working with other G7 nations to strike a tougher tone against China’s military activity around Taiwan and its use of economic pressure.
The leaders of Japan, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United States and the United Kingdom also warned of “heightened uncertainty about the global economic outlook”, s pledging to remain vigilant and flexible in their macroeconomic policy as global inflationary pressure continues.
On economic policy toward Beijing, the G7 said its approach was “not designed to harm China” or “to thwart China’s economic progress and development.” Member countries said the group was not interested in decoupling from China and was simply engaging in what it called “risk reduction”.
But they said they would take steps to address “the challenges posed by China’s non-market policies and practices, which distort the global economy” and “foster resilience to economic coercion”.
On climate policy, the leaders agreed that, given the exceptional impacts of Russia’s war on Ukraine, “state-backed investment in the gas sector may be appropriate as a temporary response”, in a victory for Germany.
Berlin had lobbied for such approval despite opposition from countries like the UK and France, who said it undermined the G7’s stated goal of moving away from fossil fuels, and accusations from environmental groups that it would amount to backtracking on zero net commitments.
Regarding the rapid development of the artificial intelligence industry, the leaders agreed to “commit to advancing multi-stakeholder approaches to the development of standards for AI” and to developing international standards for the area.
The G7 also agreed to establish by the end of this year a “Hiroshima AI process” in cooperation with the OECD and the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence, a group of 29 countries focused on the subject, to discuss governance, property rights and “responsible” use.