‘Not with China per se’: Biden says democracies in contest with autocratic governments
The G7 nations have called on China to respect human rights in the Xinjiang region and a higher degree of autonomy in Hong Kong, a former British colony.
US President Joe Biden on Sunday said that the United States and its allies are in a contest with autocratic governments around the world which will decide whether democracies can compete in the rapidly changing 21st century. After the conclusion of the G7 summit, Biden told a news conference that the US will deal with China in a straightforward manner and will state the disagreements frankly.
“I think we are in a contest, not with China per se, but a contest with autocrats, autocratic governments around the world, as to whether or not democracies can compete with them in the rapidly changing 21st century,” said Biden.
In a communique published on Sunday, the seven richest democracies said that they recognise their responsibility in upholding a rules-based international system and commit to playing their role in it. The G7 nations further stated that, with regard to China, they will continue to consult on collective approaches to challenging non-market policies and practices which undermine the fair and transparent operation of the global economy.
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The G7 also called on China to respect human rights in the Xinjiang region and a higher degree of autonomy in Hong Kong, a former British colony, which has been undermined by China’s draconian national security law. According to the communique, the G7 countries will cooperate with China on issues of mutual interest on shared global challenges, particularly on climate action and addressing biodiversity loss in the context of COP26 and other multilateral discussions.
“You are gonna see just straightforward dealing with China, and again, we are looking for, as I told Xi Jinping myself, I am not looking for conflict. Where we cooperate, we will cooperate, where we disagree, we will state it frankly,” he added.
People familiar with the G7 discussions on China said that there was no immediate consensus on how forcefully they should call out Beijing over the alleged human rights abuses. While Canada, Britain and France largely endorsed Biden's more hawkish position on China, Germany, Italy and the European Union showed more hesitancy, reported Associated Press. However, Biden said that he was satisfied by “plenty of action” taken on China.
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Speaking on US-Russia relations, Biden, who will meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin next week, admitted that the bilateral ties are at a low point. Biden is expected to hold a solo press conference after the meeting. When asked about why the US president didn’t choose to stand side-by-side with Putin and call out Russia’s disruptive actions, Biden said that it is not a “contest about who can do better in front of a press conference to try to embarrass each other.”
G7 nations comprise the US, UK, Germany, France, Canada, Italy and Japan. 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. The three-day summit concluded on Sunday as G7 leaders adopted Biden’s ‘build back better’ mantra, vowing to end pandemic and combat climate change.
(With agency inputs)