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G7 issues strongest condemnation of China


 |  Kathmandu

Volodymyr Zelenskyy meets Rishi Sunak at the G7 summit. Britain has pledged to train Ukrainian pilots this summer (AP)

The G7 has issued its strongest condemnation of China as the world’s most advanced economies stepped up their response to what they called rising military and economic security threats posed by Beijing.

Criticizing China over everything from its militarization of the South China Sea to its use of “economic coercion”, the G7 urged Beijing to push Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine.

The G7 members said they were “seriously concerned” about events in the East and South China Seas, and “strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion”. They also called for a “peaceful solution” to tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

The group stressed that they “were prepared to build constructive and stable relations” with Beijing but recognised the importance of “engaging candidly . . . and expressing our concerns directly to China”. The statement marks the strongest criticism of Beijing by the G7. At the three-day summit in Hiroshima, the US and its democratic allies are seeking to project a unified front in the face of global division caused by the war in Ukraine, the US-China dispute, climate change and the expansion of artificial intelligence.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukraine’s president, landed in Hiroshima on Saturday, ahead of his participation in Sunday’s sessions devoted to the war in Ukraine. Zelenskyy, whose attendance was kept secret until shortly before his arrival, wrote on Twitter: “Japan. G7. Important meetings with partners and friends of Ukraine. Security and enhanced co-operation for our victory. Peace will become closer today.”

A Ukrainian official travelling with Zelenskyy told the Financial Times that the main Ukrainian goals at the summit were to gain support for Kyiv’s peace plan, secure greater military aid and co-operation, convince allies to ratchet up sanctions on Russia and discuss further measures to hold Moscow accountable. Downing Street said it would start training Ukrainian pilots “this summer” after the US gave the green light for the transfer of jets from countries including the Netherlands to the administration in Kyiv.

Britain has pledged to deliver a “basic programme” of jet pilot training for Ukrainians, although they will need further advanced lessons. “Obviously there will need to be further training with regards to F16s, specifically, which the UK doesn’t have as a capability,” said

On Saturday evening, Zelenskyy held bilateral meetings with Rishi Sunak of the UK, India’s Narendra Modi, European Council president Charles Michel and France’s Emmanuel Macron. Macron described the decision by the Ukrainian leader to attend the summit as “a game-changer.” Zelenskyy invited Modi, whose country has vastly expanded its purchases of Russian oil over the past 16 months and abstained on UN votes to condemn the invasion, to back Kyiv’s peace proposal, and thanked him for providing humanitarian aid, his office said.

The increasingly tough stance on Beijing comes after two years of the US and Japan working with the other G7 countries to strike a harsher tone against China’s military activity around Taiwan and its use of economic pressure. The leaders of Japan, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, US and UK also warned of “heightened uncertainty about the global economic outlook”, pledging to remain vigilant and flexible in their macroeconomic policy as global inflationary pressure continues. On economic policy towards Beijing, the G7 said its approach was “not designed to harm China” nor “to thwart China’s economic progress and development”.

Member nations said the group was not interested in decoupling from China and was simply engaging in “de-risking”. But they said they would tackle “challenges posed by China’s non-market policies and practices, which distort the global economy” and “foster resilience to economic coercion”.

In a separate statement, the G7 said the world had witnessed “a disturbing rise in incidents of economic coercion”. It said they would create a mechanism to “increase our collective assessment, preparedness, deterrence and response to economic coercion” and would step up co-ordination on detecting and responding to economic coercion.

China’s foreign ministry said on Saturday: “The G7 talks about pursing a peaceful, stable, and prosperous world [while] actually doing things that are undermining world peace and regional stability and suppressing other countries’ development.” Beijing was “strongly dissatisfied with this”, the ministry said.

Taiwan and Hong Kong were domestic matters and China opposed any external interference, it added, accusing the US of “economic coercion”. The ministry urged the G7 countries to “stop containing and suppressing other countries, creating and provoking confusion” and to resume “dialogue and co-operation”. 

On climate policy the leaders agreed that, given the exceptional impacts of Russia’s war against Ukraine, “publicly supported investment in the gas sector can be appropriate as a temporary response”, in a victory for Germany. Berlin had pushed for such an endorsement despite opposition from countries including the UK and France, which said it undermined the G7’s aim to shift away from fossil fuels.

Regarding the rapidly developing artificial intelligence industry, the leaders agreed to “commit to further advancing multi-stakeholder approaches to the development of standards for AI” and to develop international standards for the sector. (Financial Times) 


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