The U.S. and five major allies, including Japan, condemned economic coercion and nonmarket policies regarding trade and investment in a joint declaration that didn’t cite China by name but clearly had Beijing in mind.
The six countries expressed concern about practices that they say "undermine the functioning of and confidence in the rules-based multilateral trading system.”
The message from the U.S., Japan, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the U.K. carries no economic consequences and mirrors one released by Group of Seven nations after a meeting of leaders last month.
A U.S. Trade Representative official, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity before the statement’s release, said China has been the biggest perpetrator of the behavior condemned in the declaration.
The official mentioned China’s decision to cut off trade with Lithuania in 2021 after that Baltic nation allowed Taiwan to establish a diplomatic office there as an example of the kind of economic coercion that the declaration singles out.
In response to a reporter’s question, the official rejected any comparison to the U.S., which has become one of the most prolific purveyors of measures that could be seen as economic coercion, chiefly through financial sanctions and limits on technology exports to countries including China.
U.S. sanctions occurred in accordance with U.S. laws and procedures, and in light of relevant rules and norms, the official said. The declaration makes explicit that it didn’t apply to actions that have "a legitimate public policy objective.”
"These legitimate public policy measures include: health and safety regulations, environmental regulations, trade remedies, national security measures and sanctions, and measures to protect the integrity and stability of financial systems and financial institutions from abuse,” according to the declaration.