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AFP
May 7, 2021

G7 accuses Beijing of rights’ abuses: China hits back at G7 rights criticism

AFP
May 7, 2021

BEIJING/LONDON: China Thursday strongly condemned a statement by the Group of Seven nations accusing it of rights abuses in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong, as a schism with Western democracies widens.

Foreign ministers from G7 countries Britain, the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan urged China to abide by its obligations under international and national law during their first face-to-face meeting in two years in London. The group said they were "deeply concerned" by alleged human rights violations and abuses against the minority Uyghur Muslim population in China´s western Xinjiang region and Tibet. They also urged an end to the targeting of rights protesters in Hong Kong.

Beijing was quick to hit back, railing against the G7 for making "unfounded accusations against China and openly intervening in China´s internal affairs", Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said. He said the group was engaged in the "wanton destruction of the norms of international relations", repeating Beijing´s long-held line that those issues were China´s own matters.

The G7 statement also said the group supports Taiwan´s participation in World Health Organization forums and the World Health Assembly, which prompted China to retort that the island´s participation must be handled in line with the one-China principle. Wang added the G7 should do more to boost global economic recovery rather than causing "contradictions and differences" in the international community.

"We urge the relevant countries to face up to their own problems... and stop generalising on the concept of national security as well as other wrong practices," he said.

The Group of Seven (G7) also called on Tehran to release foreign and dual nationals they said were being held arbitrarily in Iranian jails.

They threatened Myanmar junta with fresh sanctions in a wide-ranging final communique covering the world´s most pressing geopolitical issues, including climate change and post-pandemic recovery.

The ministers, who met in central London under tight coronavirus restrictions, committed to financially support the vaccine-sharing programme, Covax.

But there was no immediate announcement on fresh funding to improve greater access to vaccines, despite repeated calls for the G7 to do more to help poorer countries.

This week´s meeting sets the tone for the G7 leaders´ meeting in Cornwall, southwest England, next month, at which US President Joe Biden makes his international debut.

"We recognise we are meeting in an exceptional and fast-changing context," the leaders said in a final communique totaling more than 12,000 words.

"We commit to working together, with partner countries and within the multilateral system, to shape a cleaner, freer, fairer and more secure future for the planet.

"We resolve to keep working on tangible issues and outcomes together and in partnership with many others."

G7 leaders underscored a need for a common stance to tackle global threats, in contrast to the increasing unilateralism of recent years and retreat from global institutions, including under former US president Donald Trump.

They called out Russia for what they said was "irresponsible and destabilising behaviour" by amassing troops on the Ukrainian border, "malicious cyber-activity", disinformation, and malign intelligence activity.

"We... will continue to bolster our collective capabilities and those of our partners to address and deter Russian behaviour that is threatening the rules-based international order," they said.