G7 is divided over China

G7 Summit

G7 is divided over the China issue.

A report by The Telegraph (“China divides G7 as Biden calls for international investigation into origins of Covid-19”, June 14, 2021) said:

Joe Biden has called for an international investigation to establish whether Covid-19 leaked from a Chinese laboratory as he tried to rally G7 leaders behind a ‘competition with autocracies.’

“But his remarks about a ‘lab leak’ on Sunday were played down by other leaders and the G7 summit broke up without bridging major rifts over China.

“The leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain and the United States called for the World Health Organisation to convene a ‘a timely, transparent, expert-led, and science-based’ investigation into the origins of Covid-19, ‘including in China,’ in a joint statement issued after three days of talks on Sunday.”

The report said:

“In comments that will infuriate Beijing, Mr Biden said neither he nor US intelligence had reached a conclusion about whether the virus had come from a laboratory but said he wanted to establish a ‘bottom line’ for transparency as part of measures to prevent another pandemic.

“‘Transparency matters across the board. We haven’t had access to laboratories to determine whether or not… this was a consequence of market place and the interface with animals and the environment, or whether it was an experiment gone awry in a laboratory,’ Mr Biden said.

“Boris Johnson said it was ‘unlikely’ the coronavirus pandemic emerged from a lab, but added: ‘Clearly anyone sensible would want to keep an open mind on that.’

“French President Emmanuel Macron said ‘there was no discussion among leaders on the origins of the virus’ and dismissed the theory as a distraction from combating the disease. He said the G7 was not a club that was hostile to China, despite differences over human rights. The disagreement reflected broader rifts over how far to go in confronting China over human rights and strategic competition.”

It said:

“Mr Biden arrived in Cornwall seeking strong language condemning China’s human rights record and a more direct recognition of the global struggle for influence between the West and Beijing.

“He explicitly framed an agreement to create a ‘build back better’ green-infrastructure program for developing countries as a competitor to China’s Belt and Road Initiative and demanded condemnation of China’s use of Uighur Muslims as forced labor in clothes factories.

“But he faced significant pushback from European allies, especially Mr Macron, who did not want to portray the group as ‘hostile’ to China.

“The final communique called on China to ‘respect’ human rights in Xinjiang and Hong Kong and separately condemned the use of forced labor in global supply chains, but made no reference to Uighur prison labor.

“It also underscored the ‘importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait’ rather than criticizing China for aggressive behavior.

“Mr Biden declared himself ‘satisfied’ with the outcome of the talks. ‘We’re in a contest with autocrats and autocratic governments around the world as to whether or not democracies can compete with them in a rapidly changing 21st century,’ he said. ‘I have walked away from the meeting with all my colleagues and believe me, they are convinced that is correct,’ he added.

The report added:

“Rifts over China were already apparent long before the leaders arrived in Cornwall on Thursday.

“Mr Johnson, who hosted the summit, initially proposed forging a semi-formal ‘D10’ group of democracies with guest powers Australia, India, South African and South Korea in what critics called a thinly-veiled attempt to build an anti-China alliance. The idea was dropped following objections from France, Germany and Japan.

“However, Mario Draghi, the prime minister of Italy, backed Mr Biden’s stance and said the G7 had to be frank about China.

“‘It’s an autocracy that does not adhere to multilateral rules and does not share the same vision of the world that the democracies have,’ he said.”

Other media reports said:

Joe Biden has called for an international investigation to establish whether Covid-19 leaked from a Chinese laboratory as he tried to rally G7 leaders behind a “competition with autocracies.”

But his remarks about a “lab leak” on Sunday were played down by other leaders and the G7 summit broke up without bridging major rifts over China.

China denounces G7 statement, urges G7 to stop slandering China

A Reuters report said:

China denounced on Monday a joint statement by the G7 leaders that had scolded Beijing over a range of issues as a gross interference in the country’s internal affairs, and urged the grouping to stop slandering China.

China’s embassy in London said it was strongly dissatisfied and resolutely opposed to mentions of Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan that distorted the facts and exposed the “sinister intentions of a few countries such as the United States”.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still ranging and global economy sluggish, the international community needs unity and cooperation of all countries rather than “cliquey” power politics sowing division, it added.

China is a peace-loving country that advocates cooperation, but also has its bottom lines, the embassy said.

“China’s internal affairs must not be interfered in, China’s reputation must not be slandered, and China’s interests must not be violated,” it added.

“We will resolutely defend our national sovereignty, security, and development interests, and resolutely fight back against all kinds of injustices and infringements imposed on China.”

China’s embassy said the G7 should do more that is conducive to promoting international cooperation instead of artificially creating confrontation and friction.

“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.”

The embassy also said work on looking at the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic should not be politicized, after the G7 in the same statement demanded a full and thorough investigation of the origins of the coronavirus in China.

The joint expert group on the virus between China and the World Health Organization has been conducting research independently and following WHO procedures, the embassy added.

“Politicians in the United States and other countries ignore facts and science, openly question and deny the conclusions of the joint expert group report, and make unreasonable accusations against China.”

China and U.S.

An AP report (“China, US diplomats clash over human rights, pandemic origin”, June 12, 2021) said:

Top U.S. and Chinese diplomats appear to have had another sharply worded exchange, with China saying it told the U.S. to cease interfering in its internal affairs and accusing Washington of politicizing the search for the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senior Chinese foreign policy adviser Yang Jiechi and Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a phone call Friday that revealed wide divisions in a number of contentious areas, including the curtailing of freedoms in Hong Kong and the mass detention of Muslims in the northwestern Xinjiang region.

Calls for a more thorough investigation into the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 are particularly sensitive for China because of suggestions that it might have escaped from a laboratory in the central city of Wuhan, where cases were first discovered.

Yang said China was “gravely concerned” over what he called “absurd” stories that the virus escaped from the Wuhan lab.

China “firmly opposes any despicable acts that use the epidemic as an excuse to slander China and to shift blames,” Yang was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency.

“Some people in the United States have fabricated and peddled absurd stories claiming Wuhan lab leak, which China is gravely concerned about,” Yang said. “China urges the United States to respect facts and science, refrain from politicizing COVID-19 origin tracing and concentrate on international anti-pandemic cooperation.”

The State Department said Blinken “stressed the importance of cooperation and transparency regarding the origin of the virus, including the need for (WHO) Phase 2 expert-led studies in China.”

The U.S. and others have accused China of failing to provide the raw data and access to sites that would allow a more thorough investigation into where the virus sprung from and how it initially spread.

Equally contentious were the issues of Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Taiwan and accusations that China has arbitrarily detained two Canadian citizens in retaliation for Canada’s arrest of an executive of Chinese communications technology giant Huawei, who is wanted by U.S. law enforcement.

The U.S. has “fabricated various lies about Xinjiang in an attempt to sabotage the stability and unity in Xinjiang, which confuse right and wrong and are extremely absurd. China is firmly opposed to such actions,” Yang said.

“Hong Kong affairs are purely China’s internal affairs,” and those found in violation of a sweeping national security law imposed on the former British colony “must be punished,” Yang said.

Blinken, on the other hand, underscored U.S. concern over the deterioration of democratic norms in Hong Kong and the ongoing “genocide and crimes against humanity against predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang,” the State Department said.

He also urged Beijing to ease pressure against Taiwan, the self-governing island democracy China claims as its own territory, to be annexed by force if necessary.

According to Xinhua, Yang said Taiwan involves China’s “core interests” and that Beijing “firmly defends its national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The tone of the phone call seemed to echo contentious talks in March in Alaska, when the sides traded sharp and unusually public barbs over vastly different views of each other and the world in their first face-to-face meeting since President Joe Biden took office.

At that meeting, the U.S. accused the Chinese delegation of “grandstanding,” while Beijing fired back, saying there was a “strong smell of gunpowder and drama” that was entirely the fault of the Americans.

Relations between them have deteriorated to their lowest level in decades, with the Biden administration showing no signs of deviating from the established U.S. hardline against China over trade, technology, human rights and China’s claim to the South China Sea.

Beijing has fought back doggedly against what it sees as attempts to smear its reputation and restrain its development.

On Thursday, China’s legislature passed a law to retaliate against sanctions imposed on Chinese politicians and organizations, threatening to deny entry to and freeze the Chinese assets of anyone who formulates or implements such measures, potentially placing new pressure on foreign companies operating in the country.




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