G7 leaders (Seven leading industrialized countries: Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States) on Sunday condemned China, among other things, for its human rights abuses and unfair economic practices. It is the strongest collective warning the group has sent to Beijing since President Xi Jinping came to power nearly a decade ago.
The closing statement of the annual G7 summit in Cornwall, Britain, on Sunday identified a number of controversial issues pressing Beijing. For example, the crackdown in Hong Kong, the intervention in Taiwan, and the use of forced labor in Xinjiang have been criticized.
“We are concerned about the use of all forms of forced labor in global supply chains, including state-supported forced labor by vulnerable groups and minorities, including in the agriculture, solar and apparel sectors,” the leaders said, referring to industries with supply chains that passed through Xinjiang.
“Respect for human rights and international labor standards is also important,” they added. China has not ratified any of the International Labor Organization’s agreements on forced labor, a major sticking point in the faltering investment deal with the European Union.
The origin of the aura
The leaders did not stop there. It also called for a new international investigation into the origin of the coronavirus in China.
The United States and the European Union are demanding a second look at how the pandemic could have started, and whether the virus originated from a laboratory in Wuhan. “The world has the right to know what happened in order to learn the lessons,” European Council President Charles Michel said a few days ago.
(Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, also participated in the G7 summit, on behalf of the European Union)
China’s global investment in the Belt and Road Initiative was also discussed. It will be tackled with a $100 billion alternative project that states say will provide less aggressive lending and better climate standards.
The leaders pledged a collective approach to “practices that undermine the fair and transparent functioning of the global economy.”
US President Joe Biden, who traveled to Brussels today, said afterwards that he was “satisfied” with the conclusions. The summit was an international diplomatic victory for him.