G7 leaders’ statement shows renewed unity among democratic nations

It is significant that democratic nations have expressed their determination to stand together against China’s moves to challenge the international order.

A summit meeting of the Group of Seven industrialized countries held in Cornwall, Britain, ended with the adoption of the G7 leaders’ statement.

The statement is comprehensive, covering 25 pages in English. G7 summits held in recent years did not achieve sufficient results under the U.S. administration led by former President Donald Trump. It can be said that multilateral cooperation among the members has resumed.

On the issue of China, the focal point of the summit, the leaders’ statement for the first time referred to “the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” encouraging “the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues.” It also called on China to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms with regard to the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Hong Kong.

U.S. President Joe Biden emphasized at a press conference, “I think we’re in a contest with autocratic governments around the world.”

Germany and Italy, which prioritize their economic relations with China, were believed to be cautious about directly mentioning the situation involving Taiwan in the statement. However, it is noteworthy that G7 leaders have taken concerted action under the leadership of the United States in making their intentions clear to China.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga reportedly criticized China’s hegemonic behavior in the East China Sea and the South China Sea at the summit, and called for a strong message to be issued toward China.

It is appropriate that the statement expressed the importance of a “free and open Indo-Pacific” and put pressure on China by saying that the G7 members “strongly oppose any unilateral attempts” to change the status quo.

In the economic field, the G7 nations confirmed that they would consider ways to avoid the risk of depending on specified countries for global supply chains for semiconductors and critical minerals. In addition, the statement pointed out that the use of forced labor in the agriculture and clothing sectors is problematic, with the situation of the Uighurs in mind.

China has been expanding its influence in Africa and other parts of the world under its Belt and Road Initiative to create a huge economic bloc. To counter this, the statement included a policy to strengthen infrastructure assistance to developing countries. It is hoped that this policy will promote assistance that contributes to development in those nations, by ensuring quality and transparency.

The G7 nations decided to provide those countries with 1 billion vaccine doses as part of measures against the novel coronavirus pandemic. Steady implementation of such steps will bolster recipient nations’ trust in developed countries.

It is unreasonable that Yang Jiechi, a member of the Chinese Communist Party’s political bureau, criticized the G7 summit as “pseudo-multilateralism based on the interests of small circles.” China should take the leaders’ statement seriously as the unanimous voice of the international community, and review its actions.

The statement described the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics as “a symbol of global unity in overcoming COVID-19,” reiterating the G7’s support for holding the Games.

This can be said to indicate their high expectations of Japan. The Japanese government must do its best to ensure the success of the Games and fulfill its responsibilities.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on June 15, 2021.