Wednesday, May 24, 2023

G7 declares support for South China Sea arbitral ruling


Japan – Leaders of seven of the world’s most powerful democracies or the G7 have declared support for the 2016 international arbitral ruling voiding China’s massive maritime claims, and asked Beijing to stop its militarization of the South China Sea where it has built military bases on reclaimed land features.

“There is no legal basis for China’s expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea, and we oppose China’s militarization activities in the region,” the G7 leaders said in a communiqué issued yesterday during their three-day summit here, the first time in Asia in seven years. The summit ends today.

In the communiqué, US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said they “are determined to work together and with

others to support a free and open Indo-Pacific and oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion.”

They said they “remain seriously concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas.”

“We emphasize the universal and unified character of the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and reaffirm UNCLOS’s important role in setting out the legal framework that governs all activities in the oceans and the seas,” the joint statement read.

“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,” the G7 leaders said.

The G7 did not specifically mention the Philippines in its Leader’s Communiqué but it was Manila – during the Aquino administration – which won the case it filed in 2013 before the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague, contesting Beijing’s so-called nine-dash line. China’s claims cover almost the entire South China Sea. Interestingly, China has a similar territorial dispute with Japan, over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

The leaders also declared that they “will champion international principles and shared values by upholding and reinforcing the free and open international order based on the rule of law, respecting the UN Charter to the benefit of countries, large and small” while “strongly opposing any unilateral attempts to change the peacefully established status of territories by force or coercion anywhere in the world and reaffirming that the acquisition of territory by force is prohibited.”

The G7 leaders likewise reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, describing the same as indispensable to security and prosperity in the international community.

“There is no change in the basic positions of the G7 members on Taiwan, including stated one-China policies. We call for a peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues,” they said.

“We reiterate the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific, which is inclusive, prosperous, secure, based on the rule of law and that protects shared principles, including sovereignty, territorial integrity, peaceful resolution of disputes and fundamental freedoms and human rights,” the G7 leaders added.


Despite their position on the South China Sea, the G7 leaders said they “stand prepared to build constructive and stable relations with China, recognizing the importance of engaging candidly with and expressing our concerns directly to China.”

“We act in our national interest. It is necessary to cooperate with China, given its role in the international community and the size of its economy, on global challenges as well as areas of common interest,” they said.

“We call on China to engage with us, including in international fora, on areas such as the climate and biodiversity crisis and the conservation of natural resources in the framework of the Paris and Kunming-Montreal Agreements, addressing vulnerable countries’ debt sustainability and financing needs, global health and macroeconomic stability,” the G7 leaders said.

“Our policy approaches are not designed to harm China nor do we seek to thwart China’s economic progress and development. A growing China that plays by international rules would be of global interest,” they pointed out.

“We are not decoupling or turning inwards. At the same time, we recognize that economic resilience requires de-risking and diversifying. We will take steps, individually and collectively, to invest in our own economic vibrancy. We will reduce excessive dependencies in our critical supply chains,” they added.

The G7, they said, “will push for a level playing field for our workers and companies” with a view to enabling sustainable economic relations with China and strengthening the international trading system.

“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,” they said.

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

With the Hiroshima Summit, the G7 leaders said they are “more united than ever in our determination to meet the global challenges of this moment and set the course for a better future. Our work is rooted in respect for the Charter of the United Nations and international partnership.”

During the summit, the leaders have also issued joint statements and declarations on various issues including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, economic resilience and economic security, among other issues.





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