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China hits back after G7 attack

By ANGUS MCNEICE in London and ZHAO JIA in Beijing | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-05-07 07:25
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Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin speaks during a news conference in Beijing, China, Nov 9, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

The Foreign Ministry has strongly condemned a joint statement from G7 leaders released on Wednesday that included criticism of Beijing's handling of international and domestic affairs.

The communique, penned by the foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain and the United States, as well as representatives from the European Union, began by leveling accusations of "human rights violations" in China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, before questioning Chinese handling of issues concerning its Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry, said the accusations are not founded on facts. The Chinese government has previously clarified many times that some Western governments and media outlets have relied on fabricated figures and misinterpretation of statistics to smear China.

Wang said the G7 foreign ministers were interfering in China's internal affairs and attempting to "reverse the wheels of history".

He also said that China's sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands and islands in the South China Sea is based on abundant facts and has a legal basis.

As for Taiwan's participation in international organizations, including the activities of the World Health Organization, which is composed of sovereign states, it must be handled in accordance with the one-China principle, Wang said.

He said that as a group composed of developed countries, the G7 should take concrete actions to boost recovery of the world economy and assist developing countries, rather than make contradictions and sow divisions in the international community, thus disrupting the process of economic revival.

"Much less should they grossly interfere in and accuse other nations, with a mentality of superiority, putting international cooperation against the pandemic, a current top priority, in jeopardy," Wang added.

In the communique, which followed the first in-person meeting of the G7 in two years, the foreign ministers called on China to take action to address global challenges including the "fight against the current pandemic and prevent future ones".

Beijing is sure to take issue with this comment, as China is the world's leading manufacturer of COVID-19 vaccines by volume, according to London-based analytics firm Airfinity. The nation has distributed tens of millions of China-made vaccines throughout the developing world.

Shifting blame

Martin Jacques, a former senior fellow at the Department of Politics and International Studies at Cambridge University, wrote on Twitter: "Farewell, G7: You once dominated the world, now you are a shrinking faction of it. You cannot bear your diminished status. So, you blame China. You hold it responsible for your own failure."

Jacques said G7 nations were shifting blame to China, while simultaneously failing to address "huge inequality, miserable growth and disastrous handling of COVID-19".

"The Western nations are failing to deliver for their people. China is delivering. That is why the West is in deep trouble," Jacques added.

David Phinnemore, a professor of European politics at Queen's University Belfast, questioned the group's wisdom in confronting rather than engaging with China.

"I think we're not in the position we were a couple of decades back where the G7 was seen by some people as the key to how the world was going to be economically; it doesn't hold that same power and position that it did back then," Phinnemore told Xinhua. "We shouldn't overstate its influence or importance. We shouldn't be over-exaggerating our expectations from what's going to come out of it in the coming years."

Xin Zhiming in London contributed to this story.

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