Xi Jinping might be an astute politician but he appears to be stuck in a diplomatic quagmire.
The Chinese President has ramped up nationalism at home and “Wolf Warrior” rhetoric abroad.
Military tension in the South China Sea and predatory trade practices have simply added to a toxic mix for his Communist Party administration.
Naturally, Beijing’s aggressive policies were high on the agenda when foreign ministers of the Group of Seven richest nations in the West released their 12,400-word communique in London earlier this week.
“Human rights abuses” and China’s strategy of using its economic muscle to “bully” other nations were highlighted, as well as support for Taiwan, after the two-day meeting.
Beijing’s reaction was predictable.
“The G7 as a group should take concrete actions to boost the global economic recovery instead of disrupting it and making groundless accusations,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing on Thursday.
- The G7 is made up of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
- The European Union was also represented while there were delegations from Australia, India, South Korea and South Africa.
- Military tension in the South China Sea was discussed, as well as the Taiwan Question.
- Beijing regards the island democracy as a renegade province and has threatened to take it back by force if necessary.
- In a pointed reference to China, the G7 foreign ministers said they would “work collectively to foster global economic resilience in the face of arbitrary, coercive economic policies and practices.”
What was said: “It’s fair to say that we see eye-to-eye on the need to stand up for our [democratic] values [and] hold Beijing to [account]. Basic international rules have got to be adhered to,” UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said.
Destructive behavior: ”This is the wanton destruction of the norms of international relations. [G7 nations] should not criticize and interfere in other countries with a high-and-mighty attitude, undermining the top priority of international anti-pandemic cooperation,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang said.
Softly, softly: Criticism of Xi and the CCP was carefully balanced with a commitment to “look for opportunities to work with China to promote regional and global peace, security and prosperity.”
Delve deeper: It was never going to be easy for the G7, Australia, India, South Korea and South Africa to speak with one voice. But they did agree on the threats China poses and its destabilizing influence in the Indo-Pacific.
China Factor comment: The meeting of foreign ministers was just a curtain-raiser for the main event. Next month, G7 leaders will gather in the Cornish coastal resort of Carbis Bay in the UK, including US President Joe Biden. Needless to say, China and the global recovery from the Covid-19 crisis will dominate discussions.