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G7 foreign ministers advocate free and open Indo-Pacific

The foreign ministers of the G7 have reiterated their commitment to “a free and open Indo-Pacific” region and emphasised that a growing China that plays by international rules would be of global interest.
Last Updated : 20 April 2024, 17:19 IST
Last Updated : 20 April 2024, 17:19 IST

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London: The foreign ministers of the G7 have reiterated their commitment to “a free and open Indo-Pacific” region and emphasised that a growing China that plays by international rules would be of global interest.

Terming China “a key interlocutor in addressing global challenges”, and that the G7 stands “ready to cooperate” with Beijing on “areas of common interest”, a G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting Communique on Friday said, “Our policy approaches are not designed to harm China, nor do we seek to thwart China’s economic progress and development.”

“However, we are concerned that China’s nonmarket policies and practices are leading to harmful overcapacity that undermines our workers, industries, and economic resilience. A growing China that plays by international rules would be of global interest,” the G7 Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, and the High Representative of the European Union said on the final day of the Ministerial meeting on Foreign Affairs that was held from April 17 to 19 in Capri, an island in Italy’s Bay of Naples.

Reiterating the importance of ensuring a level playing field and a transparent, predictable, and fair business environment, the G7 Foreign Ministers said, “Respect for the rules-based multilateral trading system based on market principles needs to be the hallmark of our relations, to protect our workers and companies from unfair and nonmarket policies and practices, including forced technology transfer or illegitimate data disclosure, which distort the global economy and undermine fair competition.”

The G7 bloc also declared to protect its workers and business communities from unfair practices, including those that lead to overcapacity, create supply chain vulnerabilities and increase exposure to economic coercion, as it recognised that economic resilience requires de-risking and diversification where necessary.

The communique expressed serious concern about the situation in the East and South China Seas and reiterated G7’s “strong opposition to any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion” and also about the increasing use of “dangerous manoeuvres and water cannons” against Philippines vessels.

China claims most of the South China Sea as its own, while the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counterclaims over the strategically important maritime area.

“There is no legal basis for China’s expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea, and we oppose China’s militarisation, coercive and intimidation activities in the South China Sea,” it said and restated “the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait as indispensable to security and prosperity for the whole international community” as it called for a peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues.

The communique also mentioned that the Indo-Pacific region is a key engine for global growth, with more than half of the world’s population.

The ministers reiterated their commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, based on the rule of law, which is inclusive, prosperous, secure, grounded on respect for international law, notably the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the principles of territorial integrity, sovereignty, peaceful resolution of disputes, fundamental freedoms, and human rights, the communique said.

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Published 20 April 2024, 17:19 IST

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