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G7 leaders gather in Hiroshima.
G7 leaders gather in Hiroshima. Beijing has opposed the ‘hype around China-related issues’ at the summit in Japan. Photograph: G7 Hiroshima Summit/UPI/Shutterstock
G7 leaders gather in Hiroshima. Beijing has opposed the ‘hype around China-related issues’ at the summit in Japan. Photograph: G7 Hiroshima Summit/UPI/Shutterstock

China hits back at G7 nations, accusing them of ‘smears’ and ‘slander’

Beijing summons Japan’s ambassador, and warns UK against ‘slander’ as it condemned China-related criticism at Hiroshima summit

Beijing has accused the G7 nations of collaborating to “smear and attack” China, after the weekend summit issued a communique that warned Beijing over its “militarisation activities” in the Asia-Pacific region.

After the summit, China summoned the Japanese ambassador to register an official protest, and warned the UK to stop “slandering” the country to avoid further damage to bilateral relations. Chinese regulators also chose the weekend to announce that US chip firm, Micron Technology, had failed a security review and would be banned from use in Chinese critical infrastructure.

The G7 communique, issued on Saturday, stated that it wanted “constructive and stable relations” with Beijing, referring to “de-risking” rather than “de-coupling” from their relationship with China amid warnings from France that the summit should not be seen as being anti-Beijing. But it also outlined key concerns over militarisation in the East and South China Seas, China’s intentions towards Taiwan, and human rights concerns in Xinjiang and Tibet.

The leaders of the Quad group – Australia, India, Japan and the US – also delivered a thinly veiled criticism of Beijing, calling for “peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific maritime domain”.

“We strongly oppose destabilising or unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo by force or coercion,” the statement said, using diplomatic language that appeared to refer to China’s economic tactics to gain leverage over poorer countries and also its military expansion in the Pacific.

In response, China’s ministry of foreign affairs on Saturday accused the G7 of “hindering international peace, undermining regional stability and curbing other countries’ development”.

On Monday China’s deputy foreign minister, Sun Weidong, summoned the Japanese ambassador to register an official protest over what the ministry called the “hype around China-related issues” at the summit.Sun claimed Japan had collaborated with other countries at the summit through “activities and joint declarations … to smear and attack China, grossly interfering in China’s internal affairs”.

He said Japan’s actions were detrimental to China’s sovereignty, security and development interests, and that China is “strongly dissatisfied and firmly opposes” them.

“Japan should correct its understanding of China, grasp strategic autonomy … and truly promote the stable development of bilateral relations with a constructive attitude,” Sun said.

Japanese officials said their country’s position on China had been consistent, while Hideo Tarumi, the Japanese ambassador to China, said the G7 would continue to refer to issues of common concern as long as China does not change its behaviour, according to a statement.

“China should first take positive steps to address those issues of concerns if China demands not to refer to them,” Tarumi is said to have told Sun.

On Sunday, the Chinese embassy in Britain hit back at comments by UK prime minister Rishi Sunak, saying China represented the world’s greatest challenge to security and prosperity, but that other leading economies should not decouple from it. The embassy statement asked the UK government to stop slandering and smearing China to avoid further damage to China-UK relations.

“The relevant remarks by the British side are simply parroting words from others and constitute malicious slanders in disregard of the facts. China firmly opposes and strongly condemns this,” it said.

Also on Sunday, Chinese regulators announced US chip maker, Micron Technology, had failed a two month security review, and Chinese critical infrastructure would be barred from using it. Although Micron’s market share in China is small, the timing of the announcement during G7 was important, said Christopher Miller, a professor at Tufts University. Miller said the Micron ban could be the first test of the “de-risking” strategy.

The G7 leaders had also agreed to establish an initiative to counter economic “coercion.”

“This case could be an early test of the G7’s efforts on this front,” Miller said.

Beijing’s pushback on the summit also continued to play out across state media. The official news outlet Xinhua reported that the G7 “covered many topics but unfortunately ended with a focus on interfering in the internal affairs of other countries and hindering their development”.

It said the communique “unwarrantedly depicting the country as a trouble-maker”, and that it and other documents “hype up China threats, [and] make a truce out of reach regarding Ukraine crisis”.

Despite the anger from Beijing, US president Joe Biden told reporters on Sunday he expects there to soon be improvements in the US-China relationship.

“In terms of talking with them, I think you’re going to see that thaw very shortly,” Biden said.

US-China relations have soured in recent years, and recent attempts to get them back on track were derailed in February, when the US shot down a Chinese spy balloon it detected flying in US airspace.

Reuters contributed to this report

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