European Council President Charles Michel, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, U.S. President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pose for a group photo after laying flower wreaths at the Cenotaph for Atomic Bomb Victims in the Peace Memorial Park on the sidelines of the G-7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, on May 18, 2023. (Franck Robichon – Pool/Getty Images)
The G-7 statement on China is just “lip service,” according to Steve Yates, former deputy national security adviser at the White House.
The G-7 countries—the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Germany, France, and Italy—announced on May 20 their plan to address the “disturbing rise in incidents of economic coercion.”
“We will work together to ensure that attempts to weaponize economic dependencies by forcing [G-7] members and our partners, including small economies to comply and conform will fail and face consequences,” the G-7 leaders’ statement on economic security reads.
“We express serious concern over economic coercion and call on all countries to refrain from its use.”
U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan, who briefed reporters on the sidelines of the G-7 summit on the same day, said the leaders agreed to deploy “a common set of tools” to confront the Chinese regime’s economic coercion.
“These economic security tools will include steps to build resilience in our supply chains. They will also include steps to protect sensitive technology, like export controls and outbound investment measures,” Sullivan said.
However, the leaders emphasized that their goal is to reduce risk, not decouple from China.
“Our policy approaches are not designed to harm China nor do we seek to thwart China’s economic progress and development,” reads the G-7 summit communique.
“A growing China that plays by international rules would be of global interest. We are not decoupling or turning inwards. At the same time, we recognize that economic resilience requires de-risking and diversifying.”
Yates said the G-7 statement sends a mixed message.
“And so there was just a ton of mixed messaging out of this. And it seemed to me like a basic kindergarten tutorial on dealing with the Chinese Communist Party. They deal in actions and power,” Yates told “China in Focus” on NTD, the sister media outlet of The Epoch Times.
“So there’s no more unity among the G-7 on China than there has been on Russia, Ukraine. We still have France, Germany, and some others engaged in hot pursuit of economic opportunity and dependence upon both of those countries [China and Russia] while giving lip service to deterrence and needing to take a tougher approach,” he added.
Pacific Island Nations
Under the Compact of Free Association (COFA) established in the 1980s, the United States is obligated to provide economic aid to the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands in exchange for permission to operate defense bases there. These three Pacific nations are referred to as the Freely Associated States (FAS).
The agreement allows these states access to U.S. domestic economic programs and the United States to maintain defense bases in these nations. The citizens of the FAS are also allowed to serve in the U.S. Army.
The United States has reportedly renewed its agreements with the FSM and Palau.
The deal with the Marshall Islands would allow China to control the island chains and ports of influence across the Pacific, according to Yates.
“And the more that China solidifies these island chains or ports of influence across the Pacific, the more it could choose to disrupt flows of goods, flows of signals, undersea cables. A whole host of things come into play if [Chinese leader] Xi Jinping wants to use his full toolbox of ways to make things difficult or complicated for the United States and our allies,” he said.
Counter China Threat
According to Yates, the United States needs to work with its Pacific allies to deter the growing influence of the Chinese regime in the region.
“And so what we’re talking, whether about missile defense or a forward deployment of other kinds of capabilities, keeping these governments and people’s friends and having them on our side in this struggle for mastery over the Pacific is a very important value added to extended deterrence, so that we’re not having to deter threats from our shores that is the homeland of the United States but can do so effectively with partners’ forward deployment out into the world,” he said.
“And I think it just adds a layer of complication for China. As it tries to step out and somewhat cheaply achieve influence, we should be competing and making them have to pay more and work harder for these kinds of posts of influence in strategic regions.”
Emel Akan and Aldgra Fredly contributed to this report.