Serious talk at G7The key themes of the G7 Summit in the UK from Friday through Sunday were checking China’s rise, North Korean denuclearization, Covid-19 and climate change. Except for denuclearization and climate challenges, most issues involved a critical approach to China. Members of the Group of Seven countries opposed heightened tension in the East and South China Seas, which originated with China’s over-reaching One Belt, One Road initiative, and urged Beijing to respect human rights in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and allow autonomy in Hong Kong. They also urged China to help stabilize the Taiwan Strait and cooperate with an independent investigation into the origin of the coronavirus.
The slogan of the G7 Summit — B3W (Build Back Better World) — proposed by U.S. President Joe Biden and agreed to by the members was also aimed at restraining China. With its focus on forging a partnership for global infrastructure construction for underdeveloped nations, the B3W aims to block China from attracting them to its side with money. The Western countries’ approach to China resembles what was agreed to in the Korea-U.S. summit in the White House last month.
It is the first time that a joint statement against China was issued from a G7 Summit. The meeting designed to establish a joint coalition against China was attended by President Moon Jae-in as a guest. The Group of Seven countries’ hostility toward China reflects the West’s deepening disappointments over China’s ever-aggressive expansionary foreign policies.
China has not been engaging in competition based on goodwill. Instead of playing by the rules, the country often inflicts harm on neighbors by occupying uninhabited islands. Security experts also suspect that China has been persistently stealing cutting-edge technologies from the advanced countries and disturbing international financial markets in very inappropriate ways. The U.S. and the developed world are deeply concerned about the possible destruction of the international order by China’s pugnacious actions.
China’s tough challenges go against constitutional values of G7 member nations and South Korea. The Moon Jae-in administration must devise a strategy to deal with China. Rather than trying to avoid concerted international action against Beijing, South Korea must ride the tide proactively. Moon must not ignore what was agreed to with the U.S. president at the summit in Washington. China is our largest trade partner. But if Moon gets overly worried about China’s reaction, he could lose the trust of the U.S. and the international community.
The G7 Summit also mentioned North Korean denuclearization, which had been carefully skipped in Moon’s summit with Biden. The G7 members took the position that the issue must be resolved by complete, verifiable, irreversible abandonment (CVIA) of the weapons. We hope the Moon administration urges Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear programs. Regrettably, Moon’s meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga ended in one minute. Moon could not move an inch to address thorny issues between Seoul and Tokyo over wartime forced labor and sex slaves. The government must come up with solutions to untie that Gordian knot. That’s the only way to improve the two countries’ relations.