The leaders of seven most economically advanced countries (G 7) on Thursday called for sending a strong message to China on the issue of maritime claims, and discussed ways to come up with flexible fiscal stimulus packages to shore up global economy.
The leaders from US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Japan also discussed trade and foreign policy issues on the first day of their two-day summit.
European countries do not share very stringent positions that Japan, US or south east Asian countries have on the aggressive stand China takes in the South and East China sea disputes, but the grouping seems to agree on sending a message to China in their summit communique on Friday.
“Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe led discussion on the current situation in the South China Sea and East China Sea. Other G7 leaders said it is necessary for G7 to issue a clear signal,” Japan’s Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko said.
Briefing the media, Japanese foreign ministry spokesman Yasuhisa Kawamura said one of the leaders said that the G 7 should the lead on the South China sea, but didn’t name who it was. He said countries should desist using force on finding solutions to disputes and should also take recourse to available judicial measures to solve these disputes.
China is not taking kindly to the statements coming out of G 7 summit meetings. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying retorted in Beijing that the South China Sea issue had nothing to do with the G7 or any of its members.
“China is resolutely opposed to individual countries hyping up the South China Sea for personal gain,” she said.
Ahead of the summit, US President Barack Obama urged China to sort out the maritime disputes peacefully. Many south east Asian countries and Japan have maritime disputes with China.
Echoing Obama, Kawamura said countries are concerned about freedom of navigation and overflight in the region. Answering a question on the leaders discussing Russia annexing Crimea, he said none could be happy about the status quo.
The leaders discussed the global economy in detail. They seem to be agreeing on the need to announce a flexible fiscal stimulus, the nature of which would be decided by each country. The slowdown in China, a major market for G 7 countries, and the impact of falling oil prices on many economies were discussed. They also focussed on the growing insecurity among the middle class about the economic crisis.