The G-7 is an inter-governmental political forum that includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
After discussing how to come up with a unified position on China in the G-7 summit held in Cornwall, England, leaders of the world's wealthiest democracies issued a highly critical statement that delved into a range of concerns targeting the communist nation's behavior domestically and internationally.
"We will promote our values, including by calling on China to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, especially in relation to Xinjiang and those rights, freedoms, and high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration," the G-7 said in a statement.
The G-7 called for "a timely, transparent, expert-led and science-based World Health Organization-convened Phase 2 of COVID-19 origins study in China."
The group also underscored "the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait" and encouraged "the peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues."
"We remain seriously concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas and strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo and increase tensions," the group said.
The G-7 statement further highlighted concerns about forced labor in global supply chains, particularly in the agricultural, solar and garment sectors in China. These industries are the "main supply chains of concern" in the far western Chinese region of Xinjiang, a White House fact sheet noted.
According to numerous reports, China has detained more than 1 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in a vast network of camps in the region. Detainees are reportedly subjected to torture, political indoctrination, forced sterilization, forced labor and mass surveillance.
Many Western fashion brands, tech companies and other international businesses have come under growing pressure to prove their supply chains aren't tainted by forced labor in Xinjiang.
"Leaders agreed on the importance of upholding human rights and of international labor standards, and committed to protect individuals from forced labor," the White House said in a fact sheet.
President Joe Biden has pledged to rally allies to confront China's economic abuses and push back against human rights violations.
Biden said leaders agreed to a proposal to finance infrastructure projects in the developing world that would counter China's Belt and Road Initiative. The Belt and Road project has been viewed by critics as a form of "debt trap" that saddles developing nations with unsustainable debt levels while bolstering China's political and economic clout in those countries.
The president also called on the regime to abide by global rules. "China needs to start to act more responsibly in terms of international norms and human rights and transparency," Biden said.
China has lashed out at G7 leaders for what it described as "small circle" power politics after they called for a new investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic and urged the country to respect human rights and freedoms in Xinjiang and Hong Kong. China pointedly cautioned G-7 leaders that the days when small groups of countries decided the fate of the world were long gone.
On Monday, June 14, the Chinese embassy in Britain firmly opposed the group's joint statement, saying it had "deliberately slandered China." The embassy statement said the leading industrial democracies had "shown the world that they are engaging in small circle power politics while deliberately creating confrontations and divisions."
It accused the G7 leaders of "political manipulation" over their support for a new COVID-19 inquiry amid renewed calls to look into whether the virus leaked from a research laboratory in China.
The embassy statement also noted that the issue involving Xinjiang "is not at all about human rights, ethnicity or religion but an issue of anti-terrorism, anti-secession and de-extremism." (Related: CCP says Uyghur Muslims opposing their own genocide are guilty of "hating Asians.")
It added that no one should interfere on the issues of Hong Kong and Taiwan, which Beijing considers domestic matters. It added that Hong Kong was being governed under China's constitution and the city's Basic Law rather than the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
The embassy stated that the "core essence" of the joint declaration was that China had resumed sovereignty over Hong Kong and that no other country had the right to interfere in the city's affairs.
"During the more than 150 years of British colonial rule, Hong Kong residents were the target of oppression by the British Hong Kong government, with no human rights and democracy to speak of," the statement said. "Just ask, during this period, did the United States and other countries concerned ever care about human rights and democracy in Hong Kong?"
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