France s President Emmanuel Macron, center right, speaks with U.S. President Joe Biden after a family photo session of leaders of the G7 and invited countries during the G7 Leaders Summit in Hiroshima, western Japan, Saturday, May 20, 2023. AP
In a joint statement issued Saturday, the G7 leaders emphasized they did not want to harm China and were seeking “constructive and stable relations” with Beijing, “recognizing the importance of engaging candidly with and expressing our concerns directly to China.”
“We call on China to press Russia to stop its military aggression, and immediately, completely, and unconditionally withdraw its troops from Ukraine,” it said. “We encourage China to support a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace based on territorial integrity and the principles and purposes of the U.N. Charter,” including in direct talks with Ukraine.
Cooperation with China is needed given its global role and economic size, the group said, in appealing for working together on challenges such as climate change, biodiversity, debts and financing needs of vulnerable countries, global health concerns, and economic stability.
But the leaders expressed “serious concern” about the situation in the East and South China seas, where Beijing has been expanding its military presence and threatening to use force to exert its control over self-governed Taiwan.
They called for a “peaceful resolution” of China's claim to Taiwan, which has remained unresolved since the communists gained power on the Chinese mainland in 1949.
The statement said there was “no legal basis for China’s expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea, and we oppose China’s militarization activities in the region."
“A growing China that plays by international rules would be of global interest,” the statement said, alluding to charges that Beijing is undermining the “rules-based international order.”
The G7 also united in voicing concerns about human rights in China, including in Tibet, Hong Kong, and in the far western region of Xinjiang, where the issue of forced labor is a perennial issue.
But the statement also sought to counter accusations that the G7 is seeking to prevent China's rise as a global power.
“Our policy approaches are not designed to harm China nor do we seek to thwart China’s economic progress and development,” it said. The statement highlighted a consensus that efforts to diversify manufacturing supply chains and ensure stable access to strategically vital minerals and other resources is not aimed at unraveling trade ties with the world's second-largest economy.
“We are not decoupling or turning inwards," the statement said. “At the same time, we recognize that economic resilience requires de-risking and diversifying. We will take steps, individually and collectively, to invest in our own economic vibrancy. We will reduce excessive dependencies in our critical supply chains.”
At the same time, the G7 members vowed to take a stand against various types of “economic coercion,” saying they “will counter malign practices, such as illegitimate technology transfer or data disclosure,” while also avoiding “unduly limiting trade and investment.”
Chinese officials have reacted to various G7 statements about economic coercion and other issues by accusing the U.S. and other members of hypocrisy.
The state-run Xinhua News Agency ran a scathing editorial Friday describing such allegations as a “witch hunt," bullying, and ”superpower suppression."
“When it comes to ‘coercion,’ the coercer of the first water is the United States,” it said. “America’s G7 allies must have much to a grudge, given how Washington has exploited, or bled them, over the years.”
The G7 includes Japan, this year's host of the leader's annual summit, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, and Italy, as well as the European Union.
The statement was released on the second day of a three-day summit. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived in Hiroshima on Saturday to participate in meetings planned for Sunday.