The Group of Seven (G7) has emphasized the importance of fostering “constructive” ties with China while addressing concerns related to Beijing’s rights record and territorial claims. In their recent communique, the G7 leaders sought to strike a delicate balance between seeking cooperation in areas like climate change and pushing back against China’s increasingly assertive posture, which has disrupted long-standing assumptions about global power dynamics. While the G7 expressed the desire to maintain ties with China, they also recognized the need for economic resilience through de-risking and diversification.
striking a Balance between Cooperation and Pushing Back
The G7 leaders acknowledged the significance of constructive engagement with China, particularly in areas of global interest such as climate change. However, they also highlighted the challenges posed by China’s non-market policies and practices, referred to as “malign practices.” By doing so, the G7 sought to address concerns without completely severing ties with China.
Economic Resilience and the Need for De-risking
The G7 leaders recognized the importance of economic resilience in the face of China’s assertiveness. They emphasized the need for de-risking and diversifying to ensure a more secure economic environment. While the intention was not to impede China’s economic progress, the G7 acknowledged the necessity of countering economic coercion and non-market practices.
G7’s Stance on China’s Policies and Practices
The G7 expressed concerns over various issues related to China, including its claims in the East and South China Seas and the crackdown on freedoms in Hong Kong, Tibet, and Xinjiang. Additionally, the G7 leaders called on China to play a constructive role in pressing Russia to end the war in Ukraine and to seek a peaceful resolution to tensions concerning Taiwan.
Concerns over Territorial Claims and Human Rights
The G7 leaders expressed unease regarding China’s territorial claims and actions. Their concerns extended to the East and South China Seas, where Beijing’s claims have raised tensions with neighboring countries. Furthermore, the G7 highlighted China’s crackdown on freedoms in regions such as Hong Kong, Tibet, and Xinjiang, emphasizing the importance of human rights and the need for improvements.
The G7’s Preferred Approach: De-risking, Not Decoupling
Experts noted that the G7’s statement adopted a balanced approach by prioritizing de-risking instead of decoupling. This approach aligns with the European Union’s preferred strategy, which aims to mitigate risks while maintaining engagement with China. Despite the use of critical language regarding China’s positions and policies, the G7 leaders aimed to achieve a conclusion acceptable to the major powers present at the conference.
China’s Reaction and Criticisms of G7’s Statement
China’s foreign ministry promptly rejected the G7’s statement, considering it an example of interference in its internal affairs. China registered a complaint with Japan, the host of the G7 summit. While Beijing’s response reflects its concerns about external interference, critics argue that China should focus on its own challenges instead of searching for external enemies.
Calls for Coordinated Action and Economic Deterrence
Within the G7, there have been increasing calls, particularly from the United States, for coordinated action to address China’s growing power and influence. President Joe Biden has made competition with China a central pillar of his foreign policy. Some US officials have even proposed the formation of an “economic NATO” to respond to economic coercion by countries like China. The G7 aims to develop tools to deter and defend against China’s economic intimidation and retaliation.
Japan and Europe’s Caution in Antagonizing Beijing
While the US has taken a more confrontational approach towards China, Japan and European members of the G7 have demonstrated a more cautious stance. These countries heavily rely on Chinese trade and, as a result, have concerns about potential economic repercussions. Their cautious approach raises questions about the extent to which measures against China might be implemented.
Launching the Coordination Platform on Economic Coercion
As part of their response to economic coercion, the G7 leaders announced the launch of a Coordination Platform on Economic Coercion. This initiative aims to enhance the collective assessment, preparedness, deterrence, and response to economic coercion. The G7 leaders also expressed their commitment to expanding cooperation with partners beyond the G7.
In conclusion, the G7 leaders have emphasized the importance of maintaining constructive ties with China while addressing concerns over its policies and practices. The approach focuses on economic resilience through de-risking and diversification rather than decoupling. The G7’s stance reflects a delicate balance between cooperation and pushback, aiming to address challenges without completely severing ties. However, China’s rejection of the G7’s statement highlights the ongoing tensions and differing perspectives between major powers.