As the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) major economies gathered in Japan on Monday for a second day of talks, China was that top topic of discussion.
Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi opened the meeting by saying the international community was “at history’s turning point.”
Hayashi said they ought “demonstrate to the world the G7’s strong determination” to defend the “international order based on the rule of law.”
The diplomats are meeting in the mountainous resort town of Karuizawa in central Japan and holding talks until Tuesday, ahead of a summit of G7 leaders in Hiroshima in May.
The G7 are hoping to project a unified message after French President Emmanuel Macron’s comments that a Chinese attack on Taiwan would not prompt European involvement.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Sunday the bloc’s relationship with China would be determined by Beijing’s action.
Borrell called China “a partner, competitor and systematic rival.” “Anything that happens in Taiwan Strait will mean a lot to
us,” Borrell said.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Sunday, when asked whether the G7 would support Taiwan in the event of conflict with China, said: “Our concern is to de-escalate.”
“And that is why speculating about ‘what if…’ is the wrong thing to do now. But we must also make it clear that we would not accept a military escalation,” she added.
The controversy also puts into focus the language of the final statement by the foreign ministers, which is expected Tuesday.
China concluded large-scale air and sea drills in the Taiwan Strait last week. The show of force was in retaliation for Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen meeting with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy earlier this month.
Also on Monday, the United States Navy sailed a warship through the Taiwan Strait in its first known transit since China carried out military drills around self-ruled Taiwan.
Hayashi told his colleagues during discussions they must “firmly reject unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force, and Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and its threats of the use of nuclear weapons.”
In a statement, Hayashi said it was important to maintain unity among the G7 and other like-minded countries and to continue support for Ukraine.
The ministers stated that Russia must withdraw all forces and equipment from Ukraine immediately and unconditionally.
They said Russia’s “nuclear rhetoric is unacceptable” and agreed on “reinforcing coordination to prevent and respond to evasion of sanctions as well as third party weapon supply to Russia.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on the sidelines of the meeting there is a “shared deep concern” among allies about the power struggle in Sudan.
Meanwhile, energy and environment ministers of the G7 vowed Sunday to work to hasten the shift toward renewable energy in the Japanese city of Sapporo.