© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past a ‘G7 Hiroshima’ flower installation near the Peace Memorial Museum, ahead of the G7 summit, in Hiroshima, Japan May 17, 2023. REUTERS/Androniki Christodoulou
By Trevor Hunnicutt and John Irish
WASHINGTON/PARIS (Reuters) – The longest shadows at the Group of Seven (G7) leaders’ summit this week will be cast by two countries that weren’t even invited to the Hiroshima gathering: China and Russia.
As leaders of the world’s advanced democracies meet for three days from Friday in the western Japanese city, they will have to overcome their own differences, officials say, as they aim to project unity in the face of to the challenges of Beijing and Moscow.
Divisions within the G7 appear to be most notable in China, several officials told Reuters, with countries scrambling to warn against what they see as a Chinese threat to global supply chains and security. economy without completely alienating a powerful and important trading partner.
The G7 countries – the United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Canada and Italy – are all closely linked economically to China, the world’s second largest economy and a base and key global manufacturing markets.
How the G7 will handle “great power competition” is an important issue for the summit, said Narushige Michishita, a professor at the National Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) in Tokyo.
“They need to address economic security and how to handle sensitive technology,” Michishita said. “It’s all part of the great power competition that’s going on between the United States and Russia, and the United States and China.”
Their differences on China were highlighted after French President Emmanuel Macron visited Beijing last month and called on the European Union to reduce its dependence on the United States.
A senior US administration official told Reuters this week the summit would show leaders united behind a common approach to China, although he acknowledged it was “one of the most complex” of the meeting.
The leaders are also expected to discuss concerns over China’s use of ‘economic coercion’ in its overseas relations as part of their broader joint statement, with that main statement expected to include a ‘China-specific section’ , reported Reuters.
There will be a number of other statements, German government sources said, including on Ukraine, economic resilience and security, food security and others.
“I would call it a geopolitical G7, which will tackle a massive security crisis, which is Russian aggression against Ukraine,” a French presidential official said.
“It is also geopolitical as tensions between China and the United States are increasing and therefore we must express the rules of the game in order to preserve our capacities for international cooperation,” the official said.
Leaders from a number of other countries, including India and Vietnam, are also among those expected as observers. The G7 seeks to get closer to the members of the “Global South” to counter the role of China on the world stage.
But it remains to be seen how direct the language will be to China. Some G7 members are skeptical about signing investment controls in China.
While the April meeting of G7 foreign ministers recognized “the need to work with China on global challenges” and reiterated its call for Beijing to act “as a responsible member of the community “neither the climate chiefs nor the group’s chief financial officers mentioned China directly in their press releases.
The United States is at the forefront of pushing for tougher investment controls, but Germany is more cautious, given its heavy reliance on trade with Beijing.
Germany wants to see investment screening in targeted areas, not all areas, senior German government officials have said.
Japan is also skeptical about investment controls.
FROM RUSSIA TO TAIWAN
The leaders also plan to toughen sanctions on Russia, with measures targeting energy and exports helping Moscow’s war effort, officials with direct knowledge of the talks told Reuters.
The new measures will aim to circumvent sanctions involving third countries and seek to undermine Russia’s future energy production and curb trade that supports the Russian military, they said.
On Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there are differences in strategy on how to end the conflict.
The United States does not want to talk diplomatic channels until it sees how the spring military offensive will play out, officials said, even though its European allies want it to have a diplomatic solution in hand. .
“From a European point of view, it is about Ukraine’s partners doing everything they can to accelerate its victory,” said a European official, adding that Europe’s response to the challenges from the United States and China was also important.
“We must also learn to defend our interests,” the official said.
For host Japan, it wants to send a clear message about the importance of the rules-based international order, officials said, as Tokyo fears Russia’s actions against Ukraine will embolden action of China against Taiwan.