Member nations of the intergovernmental organization Group of Seven (G7) are considering a US proposal to counter what the White House sees as China’s economic force.
A paper was circulated before a two-day meeting of G7 foreign ministers in London, according to officials. The officials’ meeting spent some 90 minutes discussing ways in which China tries to get nations and individuals to do what it wants via the Belt and Road initiative or by leveling economic threats, according to a senior State Department official.
The US wants a consultation mechanism that would involve the G7, as well as other stakeholders, to ensure a coordinated response to China’s moves and with the aim of boosting the resilience of G7 nations, according to another diplomat.
Standoff with China
The initiative coincides with a hardening of Germany, Italy, and France, the three European Union (EU) countries that participate in the G7, as they begin to align with America’s Biden administration in its standoff with China. The US is still a fair bit more aggressive than the EU when it comes to China.
As host of the G7, the UK seeks to strike a balance on China, calling out its alleged human rights abuses while keeping the door open to areas of cooperation, such as on climate change. The challenge for the UK’s Boris Johnson government is to avoid framing the G7 as anti-China under his presidency.
The UK has left the EU and wants to strike trade deals of its own around the world, including with the US and India. European nations are also seeking to strike a balance between holding China to account on its human-rights record while not alienating a key economic partner.
A proposal to set up a group called “Friends of Hong Kong” to share information and concerns about the former British colony was also discussed, according to a diplomat familiar with the matter. China last year imposed a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong last year in the wake of antigovernmental protests in 2019.
Other issues under discussion include Myanmar, Russia, Ukraine and an agreement on a rapid response mechanism to counter disinformation.