ISE-SHIMA, Japan: The Group of Seven (G7) needs to take a “clear and tough stance” on China’s controversial maritime claims and the Russian annexation of Crimea, European Council President Donald Tusk said onnThursday.
Speaking at the sidelines of a G7 summit in Japan, Tusk warned that the credibility of the club of rich nations was on the line.
“The test of our credibility at the G7 is our ability to defend the common values that we share,” he told reporters.
“This test will only pass if we take a clear and tough stance on every topic of our discussions here… I refer in particular to the issue of maritime security and the South and East China Seas and [the]Russia-Ukraine issue,” Tusk said.
He added, “If we are to defend our common values, it is not enough these days to only believe in them. We also have to be ready to protect them.”
Beijing has angered some of its Southeast Asian neighbors, including the Philippines and Vietnam, by claiming almost all of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Beijing is also locked in a dispute with Japan over rocky outcroppings in the East China Sea, stoking broader concerns about China’s growing regional might and threats to back up its claims with force, if necessary.
“The policy of the G7 is clear: Any maritime or territorial claim should be based on international law and any territorial dispute should be resolved by peaceful means,” Tusk said.
“Unilateral action and the use of force or coercion will not be accepted.”
Mind your own business
Chinese state media warned the Group of Seven nations also on Thursday not to “meddle” in the sea disputes.
China’s official Xinhua news agency published an article saying the G7 — which excludes Beijing — “should mind its own business rather than pointing fingers at others.”
Xinhua writer Chang Yuan accused Japan of “attempting to take advantage of its G7 summit host status and draw more ‘allies and sympathizers’ to isolate China.”
Both Washington and Tokyo — which is locked in a separate dispute with Beijing over islands in the East China Sea — have warned against Beijing stoking tensions in the contested waters.
Chang wrote that such remarks showed “Japan’s hidden agenda: to meddle in the South China Sea issue.”
Weighing in on the South China Sea “exceeds the G7’s current influence and capability. What’s more, it reflects a lingering Cold War mindset,” he added.
The commentary came ahead of a ruling expected within weeks on China’s claims brought to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague by the Philippines.
China has warned outside parties not to meddle in the South China Sea but has also attempted to draw nations as far away as Niger, Togo and Burundi into the dispute, insisting that they support its rejection of the tribunal.
British Prime Minister David Cameron warned China that it must abide by the outcome of the international arbitration.
Beijing summoned top diplomatic representatives from the Group of Seven nations including France and Britain in April to express anger at a joint statement on the South China Sea.