China Fires Back After G-7 Shows United Front Toward Beijing
Ministers attend the start of a plenary session on day two of the G-7 foreign and development ministers meeting in London. (Photographer: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg)

China Fires Back After G-7 Shows United Front Toward Beijing

China urged Western nations to stay out of its affairs and fix their own problems after the Group of Seven’s foreign ministers unified behind a litany of grievances with the world’s second-largest economy.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry condemned the G-7 statement Wednesday criticizing Beijing’s treatment of ethnic and religious minorities, and urging it “to participate constructively” in the rules-based international system. The developed economies should “stop interfering in other countries’ internal affairs, making groundless accusations in a condescending way and disrupting global epidemic cooperation,” ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.

“These attempts will never succeed,” Wang said, calling the statement “clique politics.”

The rebuke to the G-7 was among a volley of responses to perceived offenses by the West, as the Biden administration tries to rally U.S. allies to present a more united front against Beijing. Earlier, China said it was halting an economic dialogue with Australia and its diplomats blasted New Zealand because lawmakers there declared human rights abuses are occurring in China’s western Xinjiang region.

China Fires Back After G-7 Shows United Front Toward Beijing

China has drawn an increasingly hard line under President Xi Jinping against what it sees as meddling in its own internal affairs. While the G-7 statement echoed past communiques, the volume and scope of its complaints -- made at a meeting which this time included Australia, India and South Korea -- signaled greater unity among the nations.

“We continue to be deeply concerned about human rights violations and abuses in Xinjiang and in Tibet, especially the targeting of Uyghurs, members of other ethnic and religious minority groups, and the existence of a large-scale network of ‘political re-education’ camps, and reports of forced-labor systems and forced sterilization,” the ministers said following two days of talks in London. The G-7 statement also backed Taiwan’s “meaningful participation in World Health Organization forums.”

That message sets the stage for when leaders meet in June in the U.K., where U.S. President Joe Biden will make his G-7 debut. Part of his efforts will be aimed at convincing allies to take a firmer stance against China.

Wang, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, urged the G-7 nations to “face up to their own domestic problems,” including the coronavirus outbreak, before criticizing others. The tone echoed a speech by Xi -- delivered earlier this year, but only released Friday -- in which he told Communist Party leaders that China could “clearly see who has done better” in the global struggle against the pandemic.

Earlier Thursday, China announced that it was formally suspending a ministerial economic dialogue with Australia, a largely symbolic move showing Beijing’s growing frustration with Canberra. The National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planner, blamed Australia for the decision, accusing “some Australian government officials” of working to “disrupt the normal exchanges and cooperation between China and Australia out of a Cold War mindset and ideological discrimination.”

“It is disappointing to hear that the NDRC has made this decision,” Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan said in a statement, calling the dialogue an “important forum” to work through economic issues. While the two sides have held three rounds of talks under the mechanism since 2014, it hasn’t convened since September 2017.

China also criticized New Zealand after its parliament passed a motion declaring “severe human rights abuses” were taking place against Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang, although it stopped short of echoing U.S. accusations of “genocide.” The Chinese Embassy in Wellington condemned the motion, saying Beijing “deplores and firmly opposes such action.”

Still, China signaled a willingness to work with U.S. allies seen as more open to balancing ties between Washington and Beijing. Wang told the briefing Thursday that China wanted to continue communication with Europe to ratify an investment deal announced in December.

The Foreign Ministry spokesman also praised New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s recent reaffirmation of the country’s “one-China” policy. Beijing was ready to work with New Zealand to deepen dialogue and cooperation, Wang said.

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