“De-risking and diversifying”: G7 summit marks transition in approach to checking China

Posted on : 2023-05-22 17:02 KST Modified on : 2023-05-22 17:58 KST
The summit resulted in six separate joint documents, with a standalone statement dedicated to Ukraine
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine (center back) meets with representatives of the Group of Seven nations and EU on May 21, the final day of the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan. From front left (clockwise), Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan, President Joe Biden of the US, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of the UK, President Ursula von der Leyen of the European Commission, and President Charles Michel of the European Council, Italian Ambassador Gianluigi Benedetti to Japan, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, and President Emmanuel Macron of France took part in the meeting. (AP/Yonhap)
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine (center back) meets with representatives of the Group of Seven nations and EU on May 21, the final day of the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan. From front left (clockwise), Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan, President Joe Biden of the US, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of the UK, President Ursula von der Leyen of the European Commission, and President Charles Michel of the European Council, Italian Ambassador Gianluigi Benedetti to Japan, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, and President Emmanuel Macron of France took part in the meeting. (AP/Yonhap)

“We have confirmed the importance of a free and open international order based on the rule of law, and sent the world a strong message that we have resolved to protect it. This means a lot.”

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan, the host of the Group of Seven summit, took to the stage for a press conference marking the end of the three-day event a little before 3 pm on Sunday. Inside the Atomic Bomb Dome, a symbol of the tragedy 78 years earlier on Aug. 6, 1945, a torch burned brightly next to the memorial monument for victims. Its flame will not be extinguished until a world without nuclear weapons is realized.

Speaking on the major achievements of the meeting, Kishida stated he had invited President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to Hiroshima to “demonstrate robust solidarity between Ukraine and the G7.”

The G7 meeting began on Friday in Hiroshima, the first city in history to suffer an atomic bombing. The meeting led to six joint statements including a communique by leaders, as well as declarations on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, economic security, clean energy, and food security. This is the first time G7 leaders have released separate agreements on the issues of nuclear disarmament and economic security. The G7 has demonstrated a will to fight economic coercion by China, which can be seen in the ongoing Russian nuclear threat to Ukraine and China’s ban on Korean cultural exports.

As expected, the crux of the joint statement released on Saturday pertained to Russia and China. However, notable differences in tenor could be felt in the approach.

“Russia’s brutal war of aggression represents a threat to the whole world in breach of fundamental norms, rules and principles of the international community,” the G7 leaders wrote in their joint communique, reaffirming that “condemn in the strongest possible terms the war of aggression by Russia.”

The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to continue offering diplomatic, financial, humanitarian and military support until “just and lasting peace” is achieved in Ukraine. On Friday, the first day of the event, the leaders issued a separate document announcing additional sanctions on Russia and that nations supporting Russia would “face severe costs.”

However, despite manifesting an intention to be tough on China, the heads of state made it clear they “stand prepared to build constructive and stable relations with China.” The statement also called on China to “press Russia to stop its military aggression, and immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw its troops from Ukraine.”

In the joint statement, the leaders officially mentioned the new popular approach of de-risking that has recently been highlighted by the EU.

“Our policy approaches are not designed to harm China nor do we seek to thwart China’s economic progress and development,” the statement said. “We are not decoupling or turning inwards. We recognize that economic resilience requires de-risking and diversifying.” The leaders made it clear this move is aimed at reducing the risk of excessive reliance on China, and is not an attempt to show hostility.

The de-risking approach first drew attention in late March when European Commission President Ursula Gertrud von der Leyen mentioned the term in a policy speech. In a lecture at the Brookings Institution on April 27, US national security advisor Jake Sullivan agreed with this sentiment, and it appears to have been adopted as the official popular approach of the G7.

However, the G7 maintained a stern attitude toward stability in the Taiwan Strait and human rights issues in Tibet, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and Hong Kong.

Another feature of this year’s summit was the focus on efforts to expand cooperation with major nations outside the G7 such as Korea and Australia, as well as India, Indonesia, Brazil and other emerging developing countries known as the “Global South.”

G7 nations accounted for 64% of the global economy in 2002, but this figure had fallen to 44% by 2022.

“The influence of the G7 has weakened compared to the past, making cooperation with the Global South essential if the group wishes to improve the effectiveness of measures to keep China and Russia in check,” the Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

By Kim So-youn, Tokyo correspondent

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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