The Big Ideas

by Malcolm Riddell

'Back-to-Back Rebukes of China Mark a Turning Point'

The Wall Street Journal

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James T. Areddy | The Wall Street Journal
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June 17, 2021
'Back-to-Back Rebukes of China Mark a Turning Point'
'Back-to-Back Rebukes of China Mark a Turning Point'
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NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, gesturing, opens a plenary session during a NATO summit in Brussels on Monday.

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James T. Areddy | The Wall Street Journal

BIG IDEA | ‘The one-two punch of public criticism smacks directly into Mr. Xi’s assertion that China won’t stand for lecturing by other nations, suggesting anxiety in key capitals is prompting governments to seek alignment with the U.S. over attempting to manage the relationship with Beijing on their own.’
“China’s behavior changed the risk calculus,” said Evan Medeiros, a Georgetown University professor. “A very significant geopolitical threshold has been crossed.”

‘Major democracies rallied together this week to issue extraordinary back-to-back rebukes of Beijing, marking a shift toward collective action and pushing back against President Xi Jinping’s strategies to position China as a global leader.’

  • ‘Over two consecutive days, Group of Seven leaders and North Atlantic Treaty Organization nations jointly criticized core Chinese policyunder Mr. Xi as damaging to military stability, human rights, international trade and global health. NATO members vowed Monday to counter “systemic challenges to the rules-based international order” posed by China.’

‘President Biden vowed his China policy would feature alliance building to hold China accountable and the G-7 and NATO events marked his first opportunity to promote the vision on an international stage.’

  • ‘The communiqué language required buy-in from participants, including European nations that enjoy massive trade with China.’
  • ‘European governments have usually refrained from pointed complaints about China, but in recent months bristled when Beijing imposed sanctions on European politicians, companies and think tanks.’

‘Discontent about China has built for some time among democratic nations that are concerned about its detention of Muslim Uyghurs, undoing of freedoms in Hong Kong, coercive trade practices and military provocations against the democratic island Taiwan, and all were highlighted in the G-7’s statement.’

  • ‘The grouping of the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Japan also expressed concern that Beijing has lacked transparency on Covid-19, while touching generally on treatment of prisoners, internet censorship and other features of Mr. Xi’s strongman rule.’

‘The G-7 language was tougher on China than the document produced by the larger, 30-member NATO grouping.’

  • ‘For instance, Taiwan went unnamed by the security alliance while the G-7 statement devoted a paragraph to calls for stability in the Taiwan Strait and neighboring seas, which China claims as its sovereign domain. ‘
  • ‘It was the first-ever mention of that hot-button issue in such a communiqué.’

‘The G-7 and NATO positions underscore deepening divisions of their members with China that risk a new type of Cold War, says Larry Diamond, a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.’

  • ‘But he said Mr. Xi will be missing the point if he feels isolated by the statements. “The message of the G-7 is the democracies of the world are taking note of what China is doing,” he said.’

‘The one-two punch of public criticism smacks directly into Mr. Xi’s assertion that China won’t stand for lecturing by other nations, suggesting anxiety in key capitals is prompting governments to seek alignment with the U.S. over attempting to manage the relationship with Beijing on their own.’

  • ' “China’s behavior changed the risk calculus,” said Evan Medeiros, a Georgetown University professor. “A very significant geopolitical threshold has been crossed.” ’

‘Hours after the G-7 event concluded, China’s embassy in the U.K., where the summit was held, issued a point-by-point denunciation of the communiqué as distorted and slanderous.’

  • ‘China considers each issue its own business and in its embassy retort said the G-7 “arbitrarily interfered in China’s internal affairs.” ’

‘A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry rejected the statements in the G7 communiqué as the misguided work of “small circles” and primarily the U.S.’

  • ‘Speaking at a regular briefing on Tuesday, spokesman Zhao Lijian said, “The U.S. is sick, and it’s very sick. The G-7 should check America’s pulse and prescribe drugs for it.” ’

‘Government-run media outlets in China mocked the G-7 by showing a rendering of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting “The Last Supper” that was widely circulated online.’

  • ‘Titled “The Last G-7,” it showed the familiar New Testament scene but with a red cake in the shape of China in front of the Jesus character—Mr. Biden as a bald eagle in this case—directing the others, also depicted as animals.’


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