Hindu Vivek Kendra
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With Biden’s backing, G7 leaders’ communiqué slams China on multiple fronts

Author: Naomi Canton
Publication: The Times of India
Date: June 14, 2021
URL:     https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/with-bidens-backing-g7-leaders-communiqu-slams-china-on-multiple-fronts/articleshow/83495016.cms

In a rare move – and with the backing of US president Joe Biden - China was heavily criticised throughout the G7 leaders’ communiqué - condemned both for undermining the global economy and for abusing human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

“With regard to China, and competition in the global economy, we will continue to consult on collective approaches to challenging non-market policies and practices which undermine the fair and transparent operation of the global economy,” the communiqué said.

“We will promote our values, including by calling on China to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, especially in relation to Xinjiang and those rights, freedoms and high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law. We are concerned by the use of all forms of forced labour in global supply chains, including state-sponsored forced labour of vulnerable groups and minorities, including in the agricultural, solar, and garment sectors,” it said.

The G7 communiqué reiterated the importance of maintaining a “free and open Indo Pacific”, which is inclusive and based on the rule of law. “We underscore the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues. We remain seriously concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas and strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo and increase tensions,” it said.

Biden said at a press conference on Sunday: “Last time the G7 met there was no mention on China in the communiqué and this time there is mention of China. The G7 explicitly agreed to call out human rights abuses in Hong Kong and in Xinjiang and to coordinate a common strategy to deal with China’s non-market policies that undermine competition and the G7 agreed to take serious action against forced labour in solar, agricultural and garment industries because that is where it is happening.” He said there was “plenty of action” on China, so he was satisfied.

Explaining how he got China to feature so prominently, he said: “I laid out what I thought was the need for us to be consistent to protect our economies too and see to it that other struggling economies got help they need and not held captive by other nations.”

“We are in a contest not with China per se, but a contest with autocratic governments around the world and whether democracies can compete with them in a rapidly changing 21st century and I think how we act and whether we pull together as democracies will determine whether our grandchildren look back in 15 years’ time and say, ‘Did they step up?’ ”

“I think you are going to see this straightforward dealing with China. I am not looking for conflict. Where we cooperate we will, but we are going to respond to actions that are inconsistent. China has to start to act more responsibly and transparently in terms of international norms and human rights because transparency matters across the world.” He said he and other countries raised the issue of Covid origins at the G7.

“Even the US intelligence agencies did not yet know whether the Covid virus originated in an “experiment gone awry” in a Wuhan lab,” he said. The communiqué calls for “a timely, transparent, expert-led, and science-based WHO-convened Phase 2 COVID-19 origins study in China.”

President Biden met Australian prime minister Scott Morrison and UK prime minister Boris Johnson met in the margins of the G7 summit in Carbis Bay on Saturday when they agreed that the strategic context in the Indo-Pacific “was changing” and that there was a “strong rationale” for deepening cooperation between the three governments. They welcomed the forthcoming exercises in the Indo-Pacific by the Carrier Strike Group.

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