China’s state-run Global Times on Monday heaped scorn upon the tepid statement by the Group of Seven (G7) nations against China’s human rights abuses and strategic aggression, judging it barely provocative enough to be insulting, but not forceful enough to disturb Beijing’s agenda.
The G7 statement was touted as the “strongest rebuke of China since the Tiananmen Square crackdown more than 30 years ago,” as the South China Morning Post (SCMP) put it. The statement mentioned human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang province, home of the Uyghur Muslims, as well as Beijing’s oppression of Hong Kong, its threats against Taiwan, and its territorial aggression in the South China Sea.
The statement additionally called for “a timely, transparent, expert-led and science-based W.H.O.-convened phase 2 Covid-19 origins study including, as recommended by the experts’ report, in China.”
Critics of the G7 communique noted that while it touched on some subjects that irritate the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), it pulled its punches and stopped short of threatening actions more consequential than “consultations” – in other words, holding more meetings.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) for example, dismissed the statement as “feckless multilateralism,” noting, “European leaders are reluctant to put their exports to China at risk with too forceful a stance,” so the best they can offer is “mumbled criticism.”
The Global Times more or less agreed with the WSJ about the ephemeral substance of the G7 statement, but still managed to work up some umbrage about the few direct allegations leveled against China.
The Chinese state newspaper accused the U.S. of manipulating the other G7 nations into slandering Beijing, but triumphantly noted the joint communique was considerably softer than Washington’s rhetoric, even after the Biden administration took over:
For example, much of the fiercest US rhetoric against China has been directed at issues over Xinjiang and Hong Kong, including accusations of “genocide” in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. However, in the communiqué, it says that “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.”
All this demonstrates that the US may have the ability to drive major Western countries to form a collective tone against China, but it is unable to impose its most extreme views as G7’s uniform outlook or the West’s in general. CNN reported that the seven leaders aired serious differences over how best to approach China during a session of the G7 summit. German, Italian and European Union leaders in particular, opposed dealing with China in a confrontational manner. The final communiqué was clearly a product dominated by Washington, yet was a compromise by all.
The Global Times saw no reason for China to be “intimidated” by the G7, because the alliance is “focused on public opinion and diplomacy” rather than “unified hostile action against China.”
“The U.S. has a strategic plan to maintain its hegemony and wants the West to bring China down together. European countries have ideological differences with China but their economic relations with China are not only competitive but also have strategic needs for cooperation,” the Global Times wrote.
The Chinese state paper was also unimpressed by the G7 announcement of an infrastructure plan, clumsily named the Build Back Better World Initiative, reportedly to compete with China’s Belt and Road scheme.
“It is questionable whether it can really be carried out or achieve practical results. The U.S. is competing with China using a Cold War mentality. But in fact, it is falling into disarray, using its weak points to compete with China’s advantages,” the Global Times sniffed.
The official response to the G7 communique from the Chinese government was a stern order to the Western world that “China’s internal affairs must not be interfered in, China’s reputation must not be slandered, and China’s interests must not be violated.”
Beijing denounced the “sinister intentions of a few countries such as the United States” and vowed to “resolutely fight back against all kinds of injustices and infringements imposed upon China.”
“We urge the United States and other members of the G7 to respect the facts, understand the situation, stop slandering China, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs, and stop harming China’s interests,” said the regime in Beijing.
China contemptuously sized up the Group of Seven as a “small group of countries” that no longer has the power to “dictate” global decisions, a “clique” that is slowly learning its “bloc politics” are “unpopular and doomed to fail.”