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G7 calls China out for rights abuses and forced labour

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The Group of Seven leaders on Sunday called out China for human rights abuses in Xinjiang and forced labour in global supply chains. The G7 also demanded “a timely, transparent, expert-led, and science-based WHO-convened Phase 2 Covid-19 Origins study including, as recommended by the experts’ report, in China”.

The G7, along with the four guest countries including India, in a clear message to China issued ‘Open Societies’ statement that reaffirmed “shared belief in open societies, democratic values and multilateralism as foundations for dignity, opportunity and prosperity for all and for the responsible stewardship of our planet”.

The statement focussed on human rights, democracy, social inclusion, freedom of expression, gender equality, rule of law, effective multilateral system and the importance of civic space. This is the first time that G7 and its invitees issued a statement on Open Societies.

“These founding values define our inclusive way of life and benefit our people. Fundamental freedoms empower people and inspire the innovation and ingenuity needed to maximise opportunities, tackle shared challenges and drive progress for the world. Openness encourages collaboration that delivers better outcomes than any nation could achieve alone,” as per the statement.

The G7 states and the four guests, according to the statement, decided to continue to exchange information and coordinate effective responses to shared threats to human rights, democracy and the rule of law — such as disinformation and arbitrary detention including through relevant partnerships such as the Rapid Response Mechanism. They decided to promote economic openness and resilience and oppose economic coercion by reasserting “shared economic model, which is founded on open markets, fair competition, and the rule of law, and by reforming the World Trade Organization”.

The leaders issued a strongly worded final communique that focussed on sensitive issues, including also on Taiwan. They said they underscored “the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues”.

“We will promote our values, including by calling on China to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, especially in relation to Xinjiang and those rights, freedoms and high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration,” the G7 said.

Before the criticism emerged, China had cautioned the G7 leaders that the days when “small” groups of countries decided the fate of the world was long gone.

“We remain seriously concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas and strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo and increase tensions,” the G7 said. The G7 said it was concerned about forced labour in global supply chains including in the agricultural, solar and garment sectors.

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