The leaders of the Group of Seven are meeting this week in Hiroshima (western Japan) to toughen their tone in the face of Russia, 15 months after its invasion of Ukraine, and to adopt a common approach towards the Chinese superpower.
The three-day summit, starting Friday, will touch on everything from energy to artificial intelligence, but the focus will be on loopholes that Moscow is exploiting to mitigate the impact of G7 sanctions on its economy.
According to the French presidency, it is necessary at all costs to prevent “circumvention of sanctions that have a cost on our economies for the benefit of others.”
The heads of state and government will approach Beijing cautiously, showing unity on Taiwan and a desire to make supply chains less dependent on China, while striving to avoid raising tensions.
The Elysee stressed that this is “not an anti-China G7 summit,” adding, “We have a positive message to China that we are ready to cooperate, provided that we negotiate together.”
The meeting of the Group of Seven foreign ministers in April focused on Beijing with a warning of its “military activities” in the South China Sea.
The ministers also insisted there was “no change” in their position on Taiwan after President Emmanuel Macron said, upon returning from a trip to China, that Europe “should not get involved in crises that are not (ours)”.
With regard to “economic security”, it is expected that those gathered at the Hiroshima summit will agree to withdraw important supply chains from Chinese influence. Washington had taken a tough stance in this regard and prevented Beijing from accessing the most advanced semiconductors and the equipment needed to manufacture them, and persuaded Tokyo and The Hague to follow suit.
“We seek a multidimensional approach to our economic relations with China,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, stressing that “this approach is characterized by risk reduction and not disengagement” with it.
Von der Leyen gave specific examples of Chinese attempts at economic coercion targeting Lithuania, Japan, and Australia.
“We are the most vulnerable to coercion… where dependencies accumulate. That’s why we take action,” she added.
The European Union recently angered Beijing by proposing to restrict exports of sensitive technology to eight Chinese companies suspected of shipping them to Russia.
It is expected that the Hiroshima Summit will call for similar measures to fill the gaps in the sanctions imposed by the G7 countries (the United States, Japan, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy and Canada) on Russia.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who recently toured Europe, will deliver a speech at the summit via video link.
“I expect that the main issues will be compliance with and implementation of sanctions, especially in non-aligned countries in the south, and the possibility of lowering the (Russian) oil price ceiling, which is what Ukraine is demanding,” said Maria Sengovaya, a Russia specialist at the Center for International and Strategic Studies (Csis) in Washington.
An unusually long list of non-G7 invitees was drawn up, including the leaders of India, Brazil and Indonesia.
While the war in Ukraine has restored its importance to the Group of Seven, Japan and other countries in this group believe that additional efforts are needed to attract non-aligned countries that hesitate to take a stand in disputes with Moscow and Beijing, especially since the Group of Twenty reached a dead end with opposition. China and Russia no reference to the war in Ukraine.
Expert Chris Johnston of the Center for International and Strategic Studies said, “Japan believes that the influence of China and, to a lesser extent, Russia, has increased in the countries of the South thanks to economic aid and their anti-Western messages.”
According to Japanese officials, it is also expected that the Group of Seven in Hiroshima will issue a declaration on nuclear disarmament, which is an important topic for Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who chose to organize the summit in this city that was destroyed by the first atomic bomb in history in 1945.