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Editorial: Focus on China at G7 summit marks time to seek dialogue, not confrontation

The flags of the G7 members countries and the European union are pictured at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima's Naka Ward on May 21, 2023. (Mainichi/Kaho Kitayama)

The crisis in Ukraine was the main topic of discussion at the recent Group of Seven (G7) summit in Hiroshima, but policy toward China also garnered attention. Notably, while members expressed concerns over China's maritime advances, human rights problems and other issues, they also called for cooperation, mixing both tough and flexible stances.

    China should accept their message with composure and seek avenues for dialogue.

    This year's G7 Hiroshima Leaders' Communique referred to the Taiwan issue, having done so twice in the past, saying that peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is "indispensable to security and prosperity in the international community." Comments from French President Emmanuel Macron that Europe should not be a follower of either the U.S. or China created a stir, but in the communique, the leaders were aligned on their opposition to use of force by Beijing.

    At the same time, they also showed consideration toward China, stating, "There is no change in the basic positions of the G7 members on Taiwan, including stated one China policies." They added, " We stand prepared to build constructive and stable relations with China."

    On the topic of economic security, the leaders reflected European claims, saying they were not "decoupling" from China while recognizing a policy of "de-risking," or reducing reliance on China.

    Regarding the fact that China has come forward to mediate in the Ukraine crisis, the G7 called on China to press Russia to stop its military aggression.

    The declaration, however, drew a strong backlash from Beijing. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong summoned Japanese ambassador to China Hideo Tarumi, saying the communique "undermined China's sovereignty, security and development interests."

    China has also taken moves to counter the G7, such as inviting the leaders of five Central Asian countries that are rich in natural resources and geopolitically important to a summit of its own.

    The emerging and developing countries of the "Global South," which are increasing their presence in international society, do not want to be dragged into a struggle for hegemony by major powers.

    Dialogue between the U.S. and China ceased following the shooting down of a balloon in February this year, but there have been moves to resume talks. U.S. President Joe Biden said he believes ties between Washington and Beijing may begin to "thaw very shortly."

    Rather than misreading the intentions embedded in the G7 leaders' declaration, we hope to see China taking responsible action as a major power.

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