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Japan Defends G-7 Statement After Chinese Regime Protests

U.S. President Joe Biden (L) and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida shake hands prior to a bilateral meeting ahead of the Group of Seven leaders summit in Hiroshima, Japan, on May 18, 2023. (Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)

China summoned Japan’s ambassador on May 21 to lodge a protest over what it viewed as a “smear” and “attack” against it during the Group of Seven (G-7) leaders’ summit, but the envoy defended the G-7 actions.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong said that Japan collaborated with other G-7 nations to “hype up China-related issues” in their joint communiqué and “grossly interfere” with China’s internal affairs.

Sun warned Japan against meddling in the Taiwan issue. He said the situations in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong are China’s internal affairs and should not be subject to interference by external forces.

In response, Japanese ambassador Hideo Tarumi defended the G-7 communiqué, saying the G-7 will keep voicing their common concerns about China unless the Chinese Communist Party changes its behavior.

Tarumi emphasized that the G-7 collectively arrived at their position based on careful considerations.

“If China asks not to mention these concerns, it should first take active countermeasures,” he said in a statement, urging China to handle its relations with Japan “properly.”

Beijing aims to take control of Taiwan by any means necessary, even though Taiwan is a self-governing democracy.

China’s embassy in Britain also accused London of slandering China after British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Beijing represents the world’s greatest challenge to security and prosperity.

The main G-7 leaders’ communiqué mentioned China 20 times, the most in recent years, and up from 14 mentions in 2022.

In the communiqué, 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 also criticized China for its “militarization activities” in the disputed South China Sea and human rights abuses in Tibet and Xinjiang, where forced labor is of major concern.

“We stand prepared to build constructive and stable relations with China, recognizing the importance of engaging candidly with and expressing our concerns directly to China,” the statement reads.

The G-7 communiqué was issued following the G-7 summit—involving the United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Canada—in Japan, which President Joe Biden also attended.

‘G-7 More United Than Ever’

At the G-7 summit, Biden told a reporter that most U.S. allies are “clear” that if China were to try to invade Taiwan, “there would be a response.”

Biden also asserted, in the context of countering destabilizing actions from China, that “we’re more united than we’ve ever been in the Pacific in terms of maintaining stability and maintaining a sense of security.”

He noted that U.S. relations with Japan “have never, ever ever in American history been stronger,” and that Japan is seeing a “beginning of a rapprochement with South Korea.”

Japan approved three key defense documents last year, including the National Security Strategy, which refers to China as its “greatest challenge.” The country seeks to have the ability to counterattack, a move widely seen as a departure from its post-war constitution.

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi previously conveyed to Beijing his concerns over “China’s intensification of military activities around Japan”—particularly near the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands that the Chinese regime also claims as its own—and China’s cooperation with Russia.

Mimi Nguyen Ly and Reuters contributed to this report.