The G7 targets China for its support for Moscow and its trade policy – 06/14/2024 at 3:23 p.m.

The G7 targets China for its support for Moscow and its trade policy – 06/14/2024 at 3:23 p.m.
The G7 targets China for its support for Moscow and its trade policy – 06/14/2024 at 3:23 p.m.

(From left to right) French President Emmanuel Macron, Pope Francis and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni at the G7 summit in Savelletri (Italy), June 14, 2024 (AFP / Tiziana FABI)

Both an essential partner and a formidable competitor to the world’s great democracies, China received a barrage of criticism from the G7 leaders on Friday in Italy, accused of distorting the rules of international trade and supporting Russia in its war against Ukraine.

In a draft final declaration consulted by AFP, the “Group of 7” (United States, Germany, France, Italy, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan) said they wanted to “act together to promote economic resilience, fight against non-trade policies and practices that undermine the level playing field and our economic security, and strengthen our coordination to address the challenges of global overcapacity.”

Joe Biden, Olaf Scholz, Emmanuel Macron and their counterparts meeting at a summit since Thursday in Borgo Egnazia, near Bari, in southern Italy, are concerned about the risk posed to world markets by the increase in Chinese exports of products to low cost, fueled by subsidies for new technologies, particularly in the photovoltaic energy, electric vehicles and lithium battery sectors.

While saying they “aspire for constructive and stable relations with China” whose “importance in world trade” they recognize, the G7 leaders express their “concern about “non-market policies and practices” which lead to “consequences globally, market distortions and harmful overcapacity in a growing number of sectors.

They also urge Beijing to “refrain from implementing export control measures, particularly on critical minerals, which could generate significant disruptions to the global supply chain”, as the country imposes restrictions on exports of minerals crucial to sectors like electric vehicles and telecoms.

In retaliation for massive imports of Chinese electric vehicles into the EU, which threaten European manufacturers, Brussels announced on Wednesday up to 38% additional customs duties, a far cry, however, from the 100% duties announced in May by the US President Joe Biden.

– Friction –

Reacting to the EU’s announcement, China announced on Thursday that it “reserves the right” to lodge a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) “and to take all necessary measures to resolutely defend the rights and interests of Chinese companies.

The G7 also mentions in its draft declaration Chinese aid to the Russian war effort, the military and diplomatic situation in the “Indo-Pacific” zone with a focus on territorial disputes between Beijing and its neighbors, including Taiwan, and security of sea lanes in the South China Sea.

“We call on China to stop transferring … weapons components and equipment that fuel the Russian defense sector,” the statement said.

“We are united in supporting Ukraine’s fight for its freedom and its reconstruction as long as necessary,” affirm the heads of state and government, who received Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday and promised him 50 billion dollars (47 billion euros) derived from income from frozen Russian assets.

The G7 “agrees to act together” against Beijing’s supply to Moscow of “necessary materials for its war machine”, President Joe Biden said on Thursday during a joint press conference with Mr. Zelensky.

The latter, however, assured that President Xi Jinping had “given him his word”, during a telephone interview, that Beijing would not sell arms to Russia.

Photo broadcast by the Russian state agency Sputnik of Chinese President Xi Jinping (d) and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, May 16, 2024 in Beijing (POOL / Alexander RYUMIN)

The G7 is due to welcome non-member heads of state and government during the day, including India’s Narendra Modi, Abdullah II of Jordan, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Argentina’s Javier Milei and Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Pope Francis also arrived in the middle of the day to talk about artificial intelligence. During a speech, he warned against the military use of AI, calling for a ban on “lethal autonomous weapons”,

Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, May 31, 2024 (POOL/TINGSHU WANG)

The summit was also marked by friction between France, the United States and Italy, the host country, criticized for opposing a reference in favor of the defense of the right to abortion in the final declaration of the summit.

The draft final declaration does not include any direct reference to the right to abortion, but more or less retains the wording contained in the G7 declaration published at the end of the Hiroshima summit (Japan) in 2023 evoking “the rights and sexual and reproductive health.

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