G7 foreign ministers call on China to ‘respect human rights’ following summit

Foreign ministers from the G7 met in London (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)
Foreign ministers from the G7 met in London (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

Foreign ministers from the G7 group of industrialised nations have called on China to “respect human rights and fundamental freedoms” following their first face-to-face meeting in over two years.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and his counterparts from the US, Canada, Japan, France, Germany, Italy and the EU met for a two-day summit hosted in London where security challenges and the pandemic were on the agenda.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson denied the meeting was a mistake after India’s foreign minister was forced to pull out of attending in person after two positive coronavirus cases were detected in the country’s travelling delegation.

Subrahmanyam Jaishankar participated virtually in the event, where India had been invited as a guest, after coming into contact with the suspected cases, although he has not tested positive.

In a lengthy communique issued after the two-day summit, foreign ministers condemned “human rights violations” in Xinjiang and Tibet as well as China’s “arbitrary, coercive economic policies”.

“In line with its obligations under international and national law, we call on China to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms,” the joint statement said.

PA Wire
PA Wire

“We continue to be deeply concerned about human rights violations and abuses in Xinjiang and in Tibet, especially the targeting of Uyghurs, members of other ethnic and religious minority groups, and the existence of a large-scale network of ‘political re-education’ camps, and reports of forced labour systems and forced sterilisation.

“We agree the importance of tackling instances of forced labour through our own available domestic means, including through raising awareness and providing advice and support for our business communities.

The statement said the foreign ministers were “united” in concerns regarding practices that “undermine… free and fair economic systems”, including on trade, investment and development finance.

“We will work collectively to foster global economic resilience in the face of arbitrary, coercive economic policies and practices,” it said.

“We urge China to assume and fulfil obligations and responsibilities commensurate with its global economic role.”

On Russia, the G7 was supportive of Ukraine but offered little beyond words.

"We are deeply concerned that the negative pattern of Russia’s irresponsible and destabilising behaviour continues," G7 ministers said.

"This includes the large build-up of Russian military forces on Ukraine’s borders and in illegally-annexed Crimea, its malign activities aimed at undermining other countries’ democratic systems, its malicious cyber activity, and (its) use of disinformation."

On the coronavirus pandemic, the G7 pledged to work with industry to expand the production of affordable Covid-19 vaccines.

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