G7 urges China to ‘play by the rules’ citing ‘economic coercion’

Western officials are becoming increasingly vocal about Beijing’s use of trade restrictions in political disputes.

U.S. President Joe Biden, Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Council Charles Michel, Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, France's President Emmanuel Macron and Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attend a working dinner session during G7 leaders' summit in Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima prefecture, western Japan May 19, 2023
Leaders of the G7 attend a working dinner session during G7 leaders' summit in Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima prefecture, western Japan [Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan via Reuters]

Hiroshima, Japan – The Group of Seven has pledged to work together to counter economic coercion amid a “disturbing rise” in countries weaponising trade.

In a statement on economic security released on the second day of the G7 summit in Japan, the club of wealthy democracies said they would boost resilience “by reducing vulnerabilities and countering malign practices that exploit and reinforce them”.

Western officials have become increasingly vocal about China’s use of trade restrictions in political disputes, although the G7 statement released on Saturday afternoon did not mention the country by name.

“The world has encountered a disturbing rise in incidents of economic coercion that seek to exploit economic vulnerabilities and dependencies and undermine the foreign and domestic policies and positions of G7 members as well as partners around the world,” the G7 leaders said.

“We will work together to ensure that attempts to weaponise economic dependencies by forcing G7 members and our partners, including small economies, to comply and conform will fail and face consequences.”

China’s use of punitive trade measures has been among the closely watched topics at the G7 summit, amid calls for coordinated action to push back against Beijing.

Japan, South Korea, Australia and Lithuania have all been hit with trade restrictions in recent years following disputes with Beijing on issues ranging from the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic to Taiwan.

In a communique released later on Saturday, the G7 leaders outlined a strategy for dealing with China specifically.

“We are not decoupling or turning inwards. At the same time, we recognise that economic resilience requires de-risking and diversifying,” the communique said. “A growing China that plays by international rules would be of global interest.”

On Tuesday, United States Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said the G7 was “developing the tools to deter and defend against China’s economic intimidation and retaliation”.

Former British Prime Minister Liz Truss earlier this year called for the creation of an “economic NATO”, saying the international community should be ready to implement tough sanctions on China if Beijing makes aggressive moves towards self-governed Taiwan.

Japan and European members have been seen as more hesitant to antagonise Beijing than the US because of their heavy reliance on Chinese trade.

Source: Al Jazeera