As the G-7 leaders doubled down on their opposition to China in the latest summit in Japan last week, their statement is long overdue, according to John Mills, former director of cybersecurity policy, strategy, and international affairs at the Department of Defense.
The summit in Japan, held from May 19 to 21, saw the attendance of top leaders from the United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Canada.
The G-7 leaders’ communiqué mentioned China 20 times, the most in recent years, and up from 14 mentions in 2022.
“The leaders that were there, they did put out a very strong statement clearly pointed at China. And that was a good thing. But it’s late in the game. These were the kinds of comments that should have been said several years ago by these countries,” Mills told “China in Focus” on NTD, the sister media outlet of The Epoch Times.
“I think there’s a rising awareness of many democratic powers that there is a challenge. The concern is: is it too late to deter China from moving to a kinetic-phase I war? That’s the big concern,” he said.
In the communiqué issued following the G-7 summit, the leaders reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait as “indispensable to security and prosperity in the international community” and called for a peaceful resolution between China and Taiwan.
The G-7 leaders said they were prepared to build “constructive and stable” relations with China while seeking to address the country’s market-distorting economic practices.
“We will counter malign practices, such as illegitimate technology transfer or data disclosure. We will foster resilience to economic coercion,” they said.
Mills pointed to the U.S. government’s new export controls (pdf) in October 2022 that block U.S. companies from selling advanced semiconductors and the equipment used to manufacture them to some Chinese manufacturers unless a special license is obtained. In December, the government expanded these restrictions to 36 additional Chinese chipmakers.
He compared the move to former President Franklin Roosevelt’s cutting off oil and rubber to Japan in the summer of 1941, which triggered the six-month countdown to the Pearl Harbor attack.
“China desperately needs those chips. They have to have those chips. So appreciate the concern. But a lot of these countries have sold out and are so dependent on China,” he said.
The G-7 leaders also said they opposed Beijing’s militarization and maritime claims in the South China Sea, which they said there was “no legal basis” for.
“We remain seriously concerned about the situation in the East and South China seas. We strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion.”
Renewal of COFA Agreement to Counter China
Mills cited the report on the United States’ recent renewal of its agreement with the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and Palau.
Under the Compact of Free Association (COFA) established in the 1980s, the United States is obligated to provide economic aid to FSM, Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands in exchange for permission to operate defense bases there. These three Pacific nations are called the Freely Associated States (FAS).
The agreement allows these states access to U.S. domestic economic programs and the United States to operate defense bases in these nations. The citizens of FAS are also allowed to serve in the U.S. Army.
According to Mills, the deal struck with Palau enables the United States to create additional basing to disperse its facility.
“So not everything is just on Guam, both dispersing, and there’s a very large over-the-horizon backscatter radar there that can see all the way from Palau deep into China. So it’s a very important asset that once it is completed operational with [the] Federated States of Micronesia,” he said.
“So all of these countries play a role because the key terms are disperse, harden, and deceive in building deterrence against China, disperse our forces, harden their base camps and facilities, and use deception operations,” Mills said.
Aldgra Fredly and Rebecca Zhu contributed to this report.