For The G7, Russia Is The Primary Enemy, Not China – Analysis

The G7 Joint Statement after Tokyo meeting lashes out at Russia, but is accommodative towards China 

For the G7 countries, the primary source of worry appears to be Russia rather than China.

The Foreign Ministers of the G7 countries comprising Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the US, and the High Representative of the European Union, met in Tokyo on November 8.

The Joint Statement issued after the meeting severely criticised the Russian invasion of Ukraine and also threatened to impose harsh sanctions on Russia. But it was accommodative in its approach to China.

On Russia

On Russia, the statement said: “Our steadfast commitment to supporting Ukraine’s fight for its independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity will never waver. We continue to condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia’s ongoing aggression, and we commit to standing by Ukraine for as long as it takes while increasing economic pressure and imposing robust sanctions and other restrictions against Russia.”

“A just and lasting peace cannot be realized without the immediate, complete, and unconditional withdrawal of Russia’s troops and military equipment from the internationally recognized territory of Ukraine. We continue to support Ukraine in further developing President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s Peace Formula. We are increasing our efforts to help Ukraine meet its winter preparedness needs, including by continuing to provide critical energy assistance.”

“Russia’s irresponsible nuclear rhetoric and its announced deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus are unacceptable. Any use of chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons by Russia would be met with severe consequences. We deeply regret Russia’s decision to revoke its ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. We strongly support the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) continued presence and unfettered access at all of Ukraine’s civil nuclear sites.”

“We will reinforce our coordination on sanctions to restrict Russia’s access to critical goods and technology. We will take further action to prevent the evasion and circumvention of our measures against Russia.”

“We reiterate our call for third parties to immediately cease providing material support to Russia’s aggression, or face severe costs. In order to reduce the revenues that Russian extracts from its exports, we will accelerate our consultation on energy, metals, and all non-industrial diamonds, including those mined, processed or produced in Russia.”

“Russia must cease its aggression and must bear the legal consequences of all its internationally wrongful acts, including compensation for the damage caused to Ukraine. We are united in our determination to ensure full accountability.”

“In light of the urgency of disrupting Russia’s attempts to destroy the Ukrainian economy and Russia’s continued failure to abide by its international law obligations, we are exploring all possible avenues to aid Ukraine, consistent with our respective legal systems and international law.”

“We reaffirm that, consistent with our respective legal systems, Russia’s sovereign assets in our jurisdictions will remain immobilized until Russia pays for the damage it has caused to Ukraine. We reiterate our commitment to holding those responsible to account consistent with international law, including by supporting the efforts of international mechanisms, such as the International Criminal Court.”

“We recommit to supporting Ukraine’s immediate, medium, and long-term recovery and reconstruction in the face of Russia’s efforts to inflict immense suffering on the people of Ukraine. We are also working to involve our private sectors in the sustainable economic recovery of Ukraine. We welcome and underscore the significance of Ukraine itself continuing to implement domestic reform efforts, especially in the fields of anti-corruption, justice system reform, decentralization, and promotion of the rule of law, in line with the European path that Ukraine has embraced together with other partners, including Moldova, Georgia, as well as countries in the Western Balkans.”

“We reaffirm our commitment to address the growing needs of vulnerable countries and populations impacted by Russia’s aggression. Russia’s weaponization of food has compounded economic vulnerabilities, exacerbated already dire humanitarian crises, and escalated global food insecurity and malnutrition worldwide. We deplore Russia’s systematic targeting of Ukrainian Black Sea Ports and civilian infrastructure and welcome steps by Ukraine to strengthen export routes free of Russian control.”

“We continue to support fully the export of Ukrainian agriproducts, including through the EU-Ukraine Solidarity Lanes, Danube ports, and its humanitarian maritime corridor. We reaffirm our aim to limit Russia’s energy revenues and future extractive capabilities, building on the measures we have taken so far.” 

“We continue to reduce our reliance on Russian energy, so that Russia is no longer able to weaponize its energy resources against us. We commit to working with nations around the world to enhance global food and energy security.”

On China

Contrast this with the G7 statement on China: 

On relations with China, the Joint statement says: “We stand prepared to build constructive and stable relations with China, recognizing the importance of engaging candidly and expressing our concerns directly to China. We act in our national interests. We acknowledge the need to work together with China on global challenges as well as areas of common interest, and call on China to engage with us on these issues.”

“Our policy approaches are not designed to harm China nor do we seek to thwart China’s economic progress and development. We are not decoupling or turning inwards. At the same time, we recognize that economic resilience requires de-risking and diversifying. With a view to enabling sustainable economic relations with China, and strengthening the international trading system, we will continue to push for a level playing field for our workers and companies.”

“We will seek to address the challenges posed by China’s non- market policies and practices, which distort the global economy. We will counter malign practices, such as illegitimate technology transfer or data disclosure.”

“We will foster resilience to economic coercion. We also recognize the necessity of protecting certain advanced technologies that could be used to threaten our national security without unduly limiting trade and investment.”

“We call on China to act as a responsible member of the international community. In this regard, we welcome China’s participation in the Ukraine-led peace process. We further call on China not to assist Russia in its war against Ukraine, to press Russia to stop its military aggression, and to support a just and lasting peace in Ukraine.”

“We underscore that China has a responsibility to uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter in their entirety. We remain seriously concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas, strongly opposing any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion. We reemphasize the universal and unified character of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and reaffirm UNCLOS’s important role in setting out the legal framework that governs all activities in the oceans and the seas.”

” We reiterate that the award rendered by the Arbitral Tribunal on July 12, 2016, is a significant milestone, which is legally binding upon the parties to those proceedings, and a useful basis for peacefully resolving disputes between the parties.”

“We reaffirm the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait as indispensable to security and prosperity in the international community and call for the peaceful resolution of cross- Strait issues. There is no change in the basic position of the G7 members on Taiwan, including stated one China policies.”

“We reiterate our support for Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organizations, including in the World Health Assembly and WHO technical meetings.”

“We also remain concerned about the human rights situation in China, including in Xinjiang and Tibet. We further call on China to uphold its commitments under the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law, which enshrine rights and freedoms and a high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong.”

“We call on China to act in accordance with its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and not to conduct interference activities, aimed at undermining the security and safety of our communities, the integrity of our democratic institutions, and our economic prosperity.”

Why the Difference?

The possible reasons for the difference in the approach to Russia and China could be two: (1) Disadvantages of fighting on two fronts at the same time (2) The West’s, especially America’s, economy is closely intertwined with China’s and a full-scale confrontation may have dire economic consequences. In contrast, the West’s economic dependence on Russia is much less and not critical. Russia can be punished at much less cost or no cost at all.