Internet shut off during G7 session as leaders debate over China: Report
- While Canada, Britain and France largely endorsed Biden's position on specific measures to counter China, other G7 leaders showed more hesitancy, reported The Associated Press.
The leaders of Group of Seven (G7) debated how strongly they should respond to China's growing clout around the world and alleged forced labour practices in the Xinjiang region. According to a CNN report, the G7 leaders aired serious differences over the approach and the disagreements reportedly became so sensitive at one point that all internet was shut off to the room.
“There was some interesting discussion, and a little bit of differentiation of opinion on, not whether this threat is there but on how strong, from an action perspective, I think different G7 members are willing to take things,” CNN quoted the official as saying.
While the G7 leaders unveiled an infrastructure plan for the developing world to counter China’s Belt and Road program, reports suggest that there was no immediate consensus on how forcefully they should call out Beijing over the alleged human rights abuses. Several leaked documents have revealed China’s brutal and systematic crackdown on Uyghur Muslims, an ethnic minority group in Xinjiang, in which they have called it a “struggle against terrorism, infiltration and separatism.”
US President Joe Biden has reportedly taken a more hawkish stance but some other leaders are wary of the risk of being seen as an outright anti-China bloc. During Saturday's first session of the G7 summit, Canada, Britain and France largely endorsed Biden's position, while Germany, Italy and the European Union showed more hesitancy, reported The Associated Press.
The G7 leaders also discussed setting up a task force on issues related to China. German chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the idea, however, she didn’t want to frame the move as an anti-China effort. “This is not about being against something, but for something,” Merkel told reporters.
The G7 Leaders’ Summit formally began on Friday evening at Carbis Bay, a seaside resort and village in Cornwall, UK. The UK holds the presidency for G7 Leaders’ Summit 2021 and has invited India, along with Australia, South Korea and South Africa, as guest countries. A communique on the three-day event will be published on Sunday.
(With agency inputs)