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G7 foreign ministers urge unity on China, Ukraine

April 17, 2023

The foreign ministers from seven of the world's major economies are gathered for a second day of talks, with host Japan urging a unified stance on China.

Foreign ministers of G7 countries sit around the table for dicussions
Global forums like the G7 have gained more prominence in the wake of the war in UkraineImage: Andrew Harnik/REUTERS

China was a top topic of discussion Monday as the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) major economies gathered in Japan for a second day of talks.

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."

"We will firmly reject any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force," he said.

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.

China simulates 'sealing off' Taiwan on third day of drills

What Europe has said about the China-Taiwan issue

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 actions. 

Borrell called China "a partner, competitor and systematic rival."  

"Anything that happens in Taiwan Strait will mean a lot to us," Borrell said.

G7 ministers meet in Japan

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. 

"Nobody in the world wants a new bloc confrontation," she said, adding that the G7 countries sought to "promote cooperation based on fair rules around the world."

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.

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. 

Germany 'working to avert Taiwan escalation'

What the G7 will discuss over Ukraine

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."

Allies voice concern over Sudan fighting

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.

rm/rt (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)