Geopolitics

President Biden will turn up the political pressure on Beijing

Focus of the G7 Summit will be how global democracies can deal with autocratic states such as China

Grappling with the China conundrum will dominate the Group of Seven Summit in June.

US President Joe Biden is expected to focus on the strategic rivalry between democracies and the Communist Party-governed autocratic state.

Pushing the D-word will be paramount when the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States gather in the Cornish coastal resort of Carbis Bay in the United Kingdom.

“These are like-minded allies, and we want to take tangible and concrete actions that show our willingness to coordinate on non-market economies, such as China,” Daleep Singh, the deputy national security adviser to Biden and deputy director of the National Economic Council, told the Reuters news agency.

The facts:

  • The G7 will be hosted by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson between June 11 to 13.
  • Representatives of the European Union will also be there.
  • A range of issues involving China will be on the table.
  • They will include human rights abuses suffered by Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.
  • Human rights organizations and the United Nations have expressed grave concerns about the treatment of ethnic groups.
  • They point to allegations of torture, forced labor and sexual abuse of nearly 1.4 million men and women held in Xinjiang internment camps. 
  • The EU, the US, the UK and Canada have taken concerted action against China for human rights violations.
  • Beijing has called the allegations “lies.”

Forced labor: “Our [the US] values need to be infused in our trading relationships,” Deputy National Security Adviser Singh said.

Smear campaign: “The few Western forces smearing and slandering China should know that the era of interfering in China’s internal affairs with made-up stories or fabricated lies has ended,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, as reported by the official Xinhua News Agency, when asked about allegations of “forced labor” and “internment camps” in Xinjiang

Delve deeper: Human rights organizations and Western governments have accused Beijing of using forced labor in the cotton industry. “The Uyghur Region supplies more than a fifth of the world’s cotton. Up to 84% of production from China is sourced from the region. One in five cotton garments on the global apparel market is tainted by forced labor,” the “End Uyghur Forced Labour” website reported.

Buying into ethics: “We’ve [the US] made our views clear that our consumers deserve to know when that the goods they’re importing are made with forced labor,” Singh said.

High stakes: “The challenge for the G7 is to show that open societies, democratic societies still have the best chance of solving the biggest problems in our world and that top-down autocracies [such as China] are not the best path,” Singh added.

China Factor comment: At the heart of this dispute is the belief in Beijing that China’s economic muscle can eventually tear down the liberal structures built by democracies since the end of World War II. President Xi Jinping’s authoritarian regime with Chinese characteristics continues to chip away at a range of issues from Xinjiang to Hong Kong democracy and from Taiwan to the militarization of the South China Sea. The key to silencing critics is the use of economic blackmail to access the world’s second-largest economy.

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