G7 Accuses China of 'Intimidation' in South China Sea, Undermining Regional Development

The G7 condemns China's "intimidation" and "coercive" actions in the South China Sea, reaffirming support for the 2016 Arbitral Award and calling for a free and open Indo-Pacific based on the rule of law.

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Geeta Pillai
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G7 Accuses China of 'Intimidation' in South China Sea, Undermining Regional Development

G7 Accuses China of 'Intimidation' in South China Sea, Undermining Regional Development

The Group of Seven (G7) foreign ministers have accused China of engaging in 'intimidation' and 'coercive and threatening activities' in the South China Sea, expressing serious concern over Beijing's actions that they say are suppressing the development of the region. In a joint communiqué, the G7 countries criticized China's 'hazardous tactics' and use of water cannons against Philippine vessels conducting routine resupply missions to the Ayungin Shoal.

The G7 reiterated their strong opposition to any unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the South China Sea by force or coercion, and reaffirmed their support for the 2016 Arbitral Award, which ruled that China's extensive maritime claims in the region have no legal basis. The ministers emphasized that the Arbitral Tribunal's ruling is legally binding and a useful basis for peacefully resolving disputes in the area.

The communiqué specifically referenced a recent incident where three Philippine Navy sailors were injured when the Chinese Coast Guard used water cannons against a Filipino supply vessel near the Ayungin Shoal. The G7 expressed serious concern about China's increasing use of such hazardous tactics against Philippine vessels.

Why this matters: The G7's accusation of China's 'intimidation' in the South China Sea highlights the escalating tensions and geopolitical challenges in the region. The situation has implications for regional stability, freedom of navigation, and the economic development of countries bordering the disputed waters.

The G7 foreign ministers also voiced concern over China's non-market policies and practices that are leading to harmful overcapacity and undermining the economic resilience of G7 countries. They stated that a growing China that plays by international rules would be in the global interest, and declared their intention to protect workers and businesses from unfair practices that create supply chain vulnerabilities and increase exposure to economic coercion.

The Philippines welcomed the G7 statement, while China's state media criticized the group for portraying China as an 'intimidator.' Former Philippine military chief Emmanuel Bautista called for broader international support for the Philippines' response to China's aggression in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), highlighting the strengthening of the US-Philippines-Japan trilateral relationship in addressing the situation in the region.

The G7 communiqué reaffirmed the importance of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and reiterated the group's commitment to an open and free Indo-Pacific region based on the rule of law. The ministers also expressed the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait as indispensable to security and prosperity for the whole international community.

Key Takeaways

  • G7 accuses China of 'intimidation' and 'coercive activities' in the South China Sea.
  • G7 reaffirms support for the 2016 Arbitral Award, which ruled China's maritime claims have no legal basis.
  • G7 expresses concern over China's use of water cannons against Philippine vessels in the Ayungin Shoal.
  • G7 voices concern over China's non-market policies and practices that undermine economic resilience.
  • G7 reiterates commitment to an open and free Indo-Pacific region based on the rule of law.