Hiroshima, Japan— The Group of Seven called for “constructive” relations with China and insisted it would not seek to block the country’s development, although it pointed to Beijing’s record of rights and territorial claims.
In their communique released on Saturday, the G7 leaders struck a balance between seeking cooperation in areas such as climate change and pushing back against Beijing’s increasingly assertive posture, which has been ramping up for decades. old assumptions about the global balance of power.
Leaders of the club of wealthy democracies said they did not want to break away from China but acknowledged that economic stability required “de-risking and diversification”.
“Our policy approaches are not designed to harm China nor do we seek to hinder China’s economic growth and development,” the G7 leaders said.
“A rising China that plays by international rules will be in the global interest.”
But the G7 – made up of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States – said it would respond to challenges posed by China’s “non-market policies and practices”, as opposed to ” malign practices”, and “developing resilience to economic pressures”.
The G7 also expressed concerns about Beijing’s claims in the East and South China Seas, as well as its restrictions on the freedoms of Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang.
The G7 leaders also called on China to force Russia to end its war in Ukraine and for a peaceful resolution of tensions in Taiwan, which Beijing has threatened to rejoin the Chinese mainland by force. if needed.
Yuichi Hosoya, a professor of international politics at Keio University in Tokyo, described the statement as a “very balanced approach.”
“This de-risking, and not decoupling, approach is the EU’s preferred approach, and it means that they have not adopted America’s ‘decoupling’ policy towards China,” Hosoya told Al Jazeera.
“Although they used some critical words on some of China’s positions and policies, I feel they made a conclusion that most of the leading powers at this conference can accept.”
China’s foreign ministry on Saturday dismissed the statement as an example of interference in its internal affairs and said it had complained to Japan, the host of the G7.
Michele Geraci, a finance professor at the University of Nottingham Ningbo China who serves as a senior official at Italy’s Ministry of Economic Development, said the G7 had “lost touch with reality” and should be more concerned about in the future of its own economies and societies. .
“I would say that the Chinese military becomes more aggressive once they build 750 military bases in the Mediterranean or Caribbean Sea,” Geraci told Al Jazeera, referring to the US military’s global footprint.
“In the meantime, the G7 leaders are just looking for an external enemy to blame and hide our own problems.”
Along with Russia’s war on Ukraine, China’s growing power and influence has become a major focus of the three-day summit in Hiroshima, Japan, which ends on Sunday.
The gathering comes amid growing calls by Western officials for coordinated action to counter Beijing, particularly in the US, where President Joe Biden has made competition with Beijing a central pillar of his foreign policy. .
Earlier this year, Bob Menendez, the Democratic chairperson of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called for the formation of an “economic NATO” to respond to the economic pressures of countries like China.
On Tuesday, US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said the G7 would develop tools “to prevent and defend against China’s economic threat and retaliation”.
Members of Japan and Europe, however, are seen as more wary than the US of confronting Beijing because of their heavy reliance on trade with China, raising questions about how far such measures can go. step.
In their communique, the G7 leaders said they will launch a “Coordination Platform on Economic Coercion” to respond to economic coercion.
The initiative will increase the G7’s “collective assessment, preparedness, deterrence and response to economic pressures” and “more promotion of cooperation with partners beyond the G7”, the statement said, without further details.