Bloc Sends Strong Message to China, Russia

Pool photo / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, center, attends a meeting with leaders of Group of Seven and invited nations in Hiroshima on Saturday afternoon

HIROSHIMA — Group of Seven leaders attending the ongoing G7 Hiroshima Summit released a communique Saturday that expressed their commitment to strengthening a free and open international order based on the rule of law and stressed the bloc’s refusal to tolerate any attempt to change the status quo by force.

The communique stated that the G7 countries will take steps to “support Ukraine for as long as it takes in the face of Russia’s illegal war of aggression.”

Regarding China, which has significant influence on Russia, the communique called on Beijing “to press Russia to stop its military aggression, and immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw its troops from Ukraine.”

Pointing to the need for dialogue and cooperation with China, the communique stated that the G7 leaders “remain seriously concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas” where Beijing has made aggressive maritime advances. The text expressed strong opposition to unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion.

The communique also underlined the importance of “peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”

Regarding nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, the leaders pledged to “strengthen disarmament and nonproliferation efforts, towards the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons with undiminished security for all” through a realistic and pragmatic approach.

The leaders also condemned North Korea’s repeated launches of ballistic missiles and reiterated the G7’s commitment to achieving the “complete, verifiable and irreversible abandonment” of North Korea’s nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.

G7 communiques are usually released on the final day of a summit. However, the schedule was brought forward for the Hiroshima summit as discussions held solely by the G7 leaders have ended.

Broader outreach

On the second day of the summit, the G7 leaders discussed ways to strengthen ties with emerging and developing countries, reflecting the increasingly important role such nations play in the international community.

In addition to members of the G7 bloc, eight other countries, including India and Brazil, were specially invited to the summit to represent emerging economies, which are collectively known as the Global South.

The G7 leaders held an expanded meeting Saturday to address how to deal with global-scale issues, including food security. The G7 summit, being held in the atomic-bombed city of Hiroshima, comprises a total of 10 sessions from Friday to Sunday.

On Saturday morning, the bloc’s leaders attended Session 4, titled, “Strengthening Engagement with Partners.”

As G7 chair, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was keen to draw emerging and developing countries to the G7 side by strengthening support for such nations, with an eye on ensuring the effectiveness of sanctions against Russia.

Meanwhile, many emerging and developing countries have expressed solidarity in their stand against Russia’s ongoing aggression in Ukraine, even while keeping their distance from the G7-led framework that imposes sanctions on Moscow. This is likely because those countries have deep economic and military ties with Russia and China. Beijing does not condemn the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine.

Opposing economic coercion

The G7 summit discussed economic security and the enhancement of supply chains for essential minerals on Saturday afternoon.

The participating countries aim to reduce their dependence on specific countries such as China for semiconductors and rare metals, which are becoming increasingly important. Cooperation with emerging countries was also discussed.

“Economic coercion,” in which a producing country pressures other countries by restricting exports to them, has become a supply chain issue. Crimping supplies hinders manufacturing, leading to economic disruption. The G7 shares strong concern about economic coercion.

To reduce dependence on particular countries, the G7 leaders also discussed strengthening cooperation with the Global South, such as by providing financial and technological support. The aim is to diversify procurement sources.

Dependence on China is high for solar panels, batteries for electric vehicles and many other products necessary to realize a decarbonized society, as they use essential minerals produced in the country. Semiconductors and other cutting-edge technology products also depend highly on China.

Hiroshima Vision

On Friday evening, the G7 leaders held a session on diplomacy and security on Miyajima Island, home to Itsukushima Shrine. During a working dinner at a Japanese-style hotel, they discussed nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, which Kishida has long focused upon, as well as challenges in the Indo-Pacific situation, including the rise of China.

Later in the evening, the leaders released the Hiroshima Vision on Nuclear Disarmament. The statement shared the importance of the 77-year record of non-use of nuclear weapons. They reiterated that Russian threats to use nuclear weapons, and any actual use of nuclear weapons by the country, can never be tolerated. The G7 also expressed concerns over China’s accelerating build-up of its nuclear arsenal without transparency. They also called for North Korea and Iran to abandon their nuclear development programs.