A statement of support by the G-7 leaders at their summit this week set off the Chinese government, which responded with stepped-up vitriol and provocative military flights in response to strong language in the group’s final communique.
“We reiterate the importance of maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific, which is inclusive and based on the rule of law,” the summit statement said. “We underscore the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues.”
The communique reflected the views of the seven leading industrial nations — the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan — which also called on Beijing to respect the human rights of Uyghurs and other minorities in China and for China to cooperate with the World Health Organization’s investigation into the origin of the virus that causes COVID-19.
It was the first time the Group of Seven voiced support for Taiwan, the island-state 100 miles off the southern Chinese coast that Beijing regards as a breakaway province.
A day later, at a NATO summit in Belgium, the alliance’s communique also issued a rebuke, stating China poses “systemic challenges” to international order.
“We are concerned by those coercive policies which stand in contrast to the fundamental values enshrined in the Washington Treaty,” said the NATO communique, referring to the alliance’s founding document.
“China is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal with more warheads and a larger number of sophisticated delivery systems to establish a nuclear triad,” the communique said. “It is opaque in implementing its military modernization and its publicly declared military-civil fusion strategy.”