Beijing chides hosts Japan and ‘anti-China’ G-7 summit

Despite Beijing’s reaction, US President Joe Biden said he expected a thaw in frosty relations with China “very shortly”.


China is “strongly dissatisfied and firmly opposes” Japan's actions at the G-7 summit, said Beijing's Vice-Foreign Minister Sun Weidong. PHOTO: NYTIMES

May 23, 2023

BEIJING – China’s state-backed mouthpiece Global Times called the Group of Seven (G-7) an “anti-China workshop” on Monday, after Beijing summoned Japan’s envoy and berated Britain in a fiery response to statements issued at the weekend G-7 summit in Hiroshima.

A joint communique issued on Saturday singled out China on issues from Taiwan and nuclear arms, to economic coercion and human rights abuses, underscoring the wide-ranging tensions between Beijing and the group of rich countries which includes the United States.

“The US is pushing hard to weave an anti-China net in the Western world,” Global Times said in an editorial on Monday titled “G-7 has descended into an anti-China workshop”.

“This is not just a matter of brutal interference in China’s internal affairs and smearing China, but also an undisguised urge for confrontation between the camps”.

Beijing’s foreign ministry said it firmly opposed the G-7 statement, and late on Sunday said it had summoned Japan’s ambassador to China as part of a pointed protest to the summit host.

Russia, a close ally of China that was also called out in the G-7 statement over its invasion of Ukraine, said the summit was an “incubator” for anti-Russian and anti-Chinese hysteria.

The communique issued by the G-7 – which also includes Canada, France, Germany and Italy – mentioned China 20 times, the most in recent years and up from 14 mentions in 2022.

As well as taking issue with G-7 comments on Taiwan, which China claims as its own and says is an internal issue, Beijing also accused the US and its allies of double standards over comments about nuclear build-up and the use of economic leverage.

Despite Beijing’s reaction, US President Joe Biden said he expected a thaw in frosty relations with China “very shortly”.

Some analysts, however, see no sign of any immediate easing of tensions, especially given Beijing’s rapid rebuttal.

“Beijing’s reaction (especially the early timing of its release) underlines that tensions in the region are already quite high and likely to increase further,” said Dr Moritz Rudolf, research scholar and fellow at Yale University’s Paul Tsai China Centre.

Japan backlash
China’s decision to summon Japan’s ambassador underlined the intensity of its anger, some analysts said.

China Vice-Foreign Minister Sun Weidong summoned the Japanese ambassador to register protests over “hype around China-related issues” at the G-7 summit over the weekend.

Mr Sun said Japan collaborated with the other countries at the G-7 summit “in activities and joint declarations… to smear and attack China, grossly interfering in China’s internal affairs, violating the basic principles of international law and the spirit of the four political documents between China and Japan”, referring to the China-Japan Joint Statement of 1972.

He said Japan’s actions are detrimental to China’s sovereignty, security and development interests, and that China is “strongly dissatisfied and firmly opposes” them.

“Japan should correct its understanding of China, grasp strategic autonomy, adhere to the principles of the four political documents between China and Japan, and truly promote the stable development of bilateral relations with a constructive attitude,” Mr Sun said.

Mr Hideo Tarumi, Japanese ambassador to China, rebutted that it was “natural” for the G-7 to refer to issues of common concern as it had done in the past and will continue to do so in the future as long as China does not change its behaviour, according to a read-out.

“China should first take positive steps to address those issues of concerns if China demands not to refer to them,” Mr Tarumi told Mr Sun, according to the read-out.

Dr Wang Yiwei, an international relations professor at Renmin University in Beijing, described China’s overall reaction to the G-7 communique as “restrained” but singled out Japan as particularly provocative.

He referred to Japan’s pick for the summit venue, Hiroshima, the city flattened by an atomic bomb at the end of World War II, and its push for a joint statement on nuclear disarmament that raised concern about China’s nuclear arsenal.

“The main thing that’s happening here is Japan, using its position as the rotating chair, to create an anti-China movement,” said Dr Wang.

Among the G-7, Tokyo has also voiced some of the strongest concerns about China’s muscular rhetoric around Taiwan, the democratic island that sits to the south-west of Japan.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said during a Monday morning briefing that the country’s policy towards China has been consistent and that it will insist on matters that are needed and urge responsible behaviour, while taking steps to address concerns and cooperate on common issues.

The Chinese embassy in Britain had earlier asked London to stop slandering and smearing China to avoid further damage to China-Britain relations.

This comes after British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said China represents the world’s greatest challenge to security and prosperity but that other leading economies should not decouple from it after the G-7 summit.

“The relevant remarks by the British side are simply parroting words from others and constitute malicious slanders in disregard of the facts. China firmly opposes and strongly condemns this,” the embassy statement said. REUTERS

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