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The Future of West-China Relations After the G7 Summit

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The Hiroshima Summit of the Group of Seven (G7), which accounts for 64% of the world’s net income, took place on May 19-21, 2023, amid tensions and concerns over the Russia-Ukraine War and expectations of strengthening the economic and political alliance against Moscow and against Beijing due to the US-China rivalry.

Although the West-China relations gave positive signals from time to time in the process leading up to the Hiroshima Summit, the lack of a stable and positive atmosphere in the relations made their hopes in vain. For example, the Defense Strategic Review 2023/Defence Strategy Overview 2023 (DSR) document[1], published by Australia on April 24, 2023 and reflecting the security perspective of the Albanese Government, cast a shadow over the search for cooperation in China-Australia relations and drew the reaction of Beijing.[2]

In addition to the bumpy relations, it has been observed that China’s economy with huge potential has prompted the Western alliance led by the United States (USA) to make a move in the field of economy. For example, while the US continues its economic struggle with China; It supports the Philippines in its competition with Beijing on the basis of the exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea. In addition, at the G7 Hiroshima Summit, statements were made within the framework of economic and political relations with China.

Looking at the joint statement published at the end of the G7 Summit, the relations and problems with China were discussed in Articles 51 and 52. In the document, in which many points are touched on, including the Taiwan Question, the parts related to China should be examined one by one. First of all, the first 3 sub-paragraphs of Article 51 indicate the desire to improve relations with Beijing and sub-paragraph 4 emphasizes that unilateral actions in the East and South China Sea will not be accepted.

In Article 51, the Taiwan Question, which is written as a sub-heading, states that the G7 countries do not recognize Taiwan’s independence, emphasizes the commitment to the “One-China Idea” and calls for a peaceful resolution of the dispute between the parties.[3]

Another point mentioned is the outbursts of human rights violations in the Xinjiang-Uyghur and Tibetan regions. As a matter of fact, it was stated in the document in question that the G7 countries considered the allegations of forced labor as the main source of concern. In addition, China has been called upon to maintain its commitment to the obligations of the “Honkong Basic Law” and the “Sino-British Agreement”.

In another sub-article, China was called upon to fulfill its obligations in the context of the Vienna Diplomatic Relations Agreement and the Vienna Consular Relations Agreement. It can be thought that this article was put in the context of the warnings made by China regarding the removal of the Ukrainian flags from the foreign diplomatic mission buildings in the country recently.[4] Moreover, China has been called upon to put pressure on Russia to withdraw unconditionally from Ukraine and not to escalate military tensions.

In Article 52, in addition to Article 51 and its sub-articles, it was pointed out that China’s vast claims to maritime jurisdiction in the South China Sea have no legal basis and the G7 countries underlined their opposition to Beijing’s military actions in the region.

Considering all these statements, it can be said that China’s activities in the region are perceived as an uncomfortable situation by G7 countries. These countries see China’s proactive foreign policy both in the region and the rest of the world as a worrying factor.

. On the other hand, it is known that China is at a key point both in resolving the Russia-Ukraine War and in the North Korean Problem. For this reason, it can be thought that the G7 members took a stance to limit their range of action instead of completely losing Beijing. Because in Article 52 of the document, China was explicitly asked for help with Russia. Kuzey Because of the North Korean issue, many Western actors, including South Korea[5] and the United States[6], have called on China to put pressure on North Korea.

In addition to these, the individual statements of the leaders are also noteworthy. For example, following the release of the G7 joint statement on May 21, 2023, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese expressed his support for the announcement to reduce dependence on China.[7]

Essentially, this statement shows that Australia is uncomfortable with its dependence on China, even though China is its largest trading partner.However, this cannot be interpreted as Australia wanting to break away from China completelyIn fact, 25.9% of Australia’s exports in 2022 ($103.9 billion) went to China.[8]In this context, given that Australia continues to work for the lifting of sanctions on some of its export items, it is clear that Australia, like other Western states, is in favor of limiting China rather than losing it completely.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak took the joint statement issued at the end of the G7 Summit one step further and stated that China is the biggest threat to global security.[9] This statement, which clearly reveals the UK’s point of view, also seems to be in line with the statements of former British Prime Minister Liz Truss, who visited Taiwan on May 16-20, 2023, on the establishment of an “Economic NATO” to combat China.[10]

In the end, the G7 Hiroshima Summit fulfilled the expectations of consolidating the alliance against Beijing.While the Western states in general, in parallel with France’s warnings, emphasized the possibility of cooperation instead of completely provoking China, Britain acted contrary to the general opinion and made harsher exits.Given that the summit also hosted the QUAD meeting and the Japan-South Korea-US meeting, the prospects for a more integrated West in the near term are quite high.


[1] Australian Government, Defence Strategic Review, Commonwealth of Australia 2023, Nisan 2023, s. 9.

[2]Chen Hong, “Australian Defence Review Misplaces Focus”, Global Times, www.globaltimes.cn/page/202304/1289763.shtml, (Date of Accession: 25.04.2023).

[3] “G7 Hiroshima Leaders’ Communiqué”, European Council, www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2023/05/20/g7-hiroshima-leaders-communique/, (Date of Accession: 20.05.2023).

[4]“China Urges Embassies to Remove Signs Showing Support for Ukraine”, Kydo News, english.kyodonews.net/news/2023/05/36cfa44f8bb4-china-urges-embassies-to-remove-signs-showing-support-for-ukraine.html, (Date of Accession: 16.05.2023).

[5]“South Korea Presses China to Address Pyongyang Nuclear Threat”, The Japan Times, www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2023/05/03/asia-pacific/south-korea-presses-china-north-nuclear-threat/, (Date of Accession: 03.05.2023).

[6]“Biden Says China Must Try to Prevent a North Korea Nuclear Test”, Reuters, www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/biden-says-difficult-determine-if-china-can-stop-north-korea-conducting-nuclear-2022-11-14/, (Date of Accession: 15.11.2022).

[7]“Australian PM Backs G7 on ‘de-Risking’ Trade with China”, Reuters, news.yahoo.com/australian-pm-backs-g7-risking-020638735.html, (Date of Accession: 21.05.2023).

[8]“Daniel Workman”, “Australia’s Top Trading Partners”, World’s Top Exports, www.worldstopexports.com/australias-top-import-partners/, (Date of Accession: 27.03.2023).

[9]“China Poses Biggest Threat to Global Security, Says Sunak”, The Guardian, www.theguardian.com/world/2023/may/21/china-poses-biggest-threat-to-global-security-says-sunak, (Date of Accession: 21.05.2023).

[10]“Liz Truss in Taiwan Calls for ‘Economic NATO’ to Challenge China”, The Guardian, www.theguardian.com/world/2023/may/17/liz-truss-in-taiwan-calls-for-economic-nato-to-challenge-china#:~:text=The%20former%20British%20prime%20minister,to%20meet%20senior%20government%20officials., (Date of Accession: 17.05.2023).

Elcan TOKMAK
Elcan TOKMAK, 2022 yılında Gazi Üniversitesi İktisadi İdari Bilimler Fakültesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü'nden mezun olmuştur. Eylül-Aralık 2022 tarihleri arasında ANKASAM bünyesinde Kariyer Staj Programı'nı tamamlayan Tokmak, Temmuz 2023 tarihinden itibaren ANKASAM Asya-Pasifik Araştırma Asistanı olarak çalışmalarını sürdürmektedir. Şu anda Hacettepe Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü'nde Yüksek Lisans eğitimine devam eden Tokmak'ın ilgi alanları Çin-Japonya-Kore ilişkileri ve Çin Dış Politikası'dır. Tokmak; profesyonel düzeyde İngilizce, orta derecede Çince ve başlangıç düzeyinde Korece bilmektedir.