Top diplomats from the Group of Seven nations have singled out China in a number of ways likely to irritate the government in Beijing, from alleged human-rights abuses to its actions on Taiwan and incursions in cyberspace.
Language used to reproach the Asian nation in a final statement echoed past communiques, but it was the laundry list of concerns that will get under China’s skin, along with the chiding.
“We encourage China, as a major power and economy with advanced technological capability, to participate constructively in the rules-based international system,” the statement said as it singled out in detail the treatment of Uyghur Muslims and pointedly supported Taiwan’s “meaningful participation in World Health Organisation forums.”
“We continue to be deeply concerned about human rights violations and abuses in Xinjiang and in Tibet, especially the targeting of Uyghurs, members of other ethnic and religious minority groups, and the existence of a large-scale network of ‘political re-education’ camps, and reports of forced labour systems and forced sterilisation,” the ministers said following two days of talks in London.
The document also took aim at Russia’s actions of “undermining other countries’ democratic systems, its malicious cyber activity, and use of disinformation.” The G7 renewed calls on Russia to investigate its alleged use of chemical weapons in the poisoning of Alexey Navalny.
The tone sets the stage for when leaders meet next month in Cornwall along the English coast. U.S. President Joe Biden will make his G7 debut and try to corral allies into taking a firmer stance against a rival superpower in the shape of China and a historic foe in the form of Russia.
It will take some convincing, given China’s economic clout and how countries need such a key player on board for multilateral issues like climate change.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken essentially began to lay the groundwork with an informal proposal to counter what the U.S. sees as China’s economic coercion.
Germany, France and Italy — the three European Union countries that participate in the G7 — are beginning to move into closer alignment with the Biden administration but are not there yet.
Officials meeting Tuesday spent some 90 minutes discussing ways in which China tries to exert leverage over governments and individuals through its Belt and Road infrastructure initiative or by leveling economic threats, according to a senior State Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
In the statement the group agreed to “work collectively to foster global economic resilience in the face of arbitrary, coercive economic policies and practices. We urge China to assume and fulfil obligations and responsibilities commensurate with its global economic role.”
As Blinken heads from London to Kiev, the G7 reaffirmed its support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders including its territorial waters.
The statement also touched on Belarus and the political and human rights crisis there following the fraudulent August 2020 presidential election, as well as the Western Balkans and support for the formal opening of EU accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia.
It noted North Korea, where the G7 remains committed to the goal of getting the regime to completely abandon its nuclear weapons program.
The statement condemned the coup in Myanmar, and reaffirmed a commitment to reaching the full restoration of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
In a section entitled open societies, a key priority for the U.K., the foreign ministers committed to working together “to strengthen the foundations of open societies, promote human rights and inclusive connectivity” and to protect democracies from disinformation and cyberattacks.
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