The G7 foreign ministers in London discuss how to deal with authoritarian states such as China and Russia. Great Britain’s Foreign Minister Raab wants to turn the format into a platform for democracies.
London / Munich – The ongoing debate about the right China policy for Germany, Europe and the USA continued on Tuesday at the meeting of the G7 foreign ministers in London. Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas advocated a joint China strategy of the members there, which should focus more strongly than before on human rights issues. “There are economic interests everywhere, but questions of human rights and civil liberties need to be given more space when it comes to China,” said the SPD politician on Tuesday at the first personal meeting of ministers in two years.
G7: From the big business club to the democracies club?
The three-day meeting will focus on how western democracies position themselves in relation to authoritarian states such as China and Russia. Like the EU, Germany is fighting for the future course in China policy. It is about the right balance between values and human rights on the one hand, and realpolitik and economy on the other. The USA is currently pursuing a much tougher course towards Beijing. US President Joe Biden described the relationship as “extreme competition”. Biden is also aiming for a kind of alliance between the democracies vis-à-vis China. The G7 could now gradually come closer to such an alliance.
The British G7 Presidency wants to turn the group into a central forum for the major democracies – and also invited South Korea, Australia, India and South Africa to the talks in London. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “The British G7 Presidency is an opportunity to bring open, democratic societies together and demonstrate unity.”
In fact, the major western industrialized countries have joined forces in the G7: USA, Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Canada. Russia was also temporarily a member – these so-called G8s ended, however, with the expulsion of Russia after its annexation of the Crimean peninsula from the Ukraine.
G7: The future approach should be cooperation between democracies
Now a possible expansion should obviously no longer rely on the criterion of economic strength, but on the criterion of democracy. “We are trying to maintain the order based on international rules in which our countries have invested so much for so many decades,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken after his arrival in London on Monday. If a country – be it China or another state – questions this order, “we will stand up and defend the order”.
Heiko Maas welcomed this approach. “More and more authoritarian states or authoritarian state leaders are trying to set their model against that of the liberal democracies,” he said. That is why it is good to define common values within the G7 and develop common strategies. Maas cited free trade as an example. “We, the G7, are the free world, and we want free trade, instead of gag agreements as we know it from others.” Green Chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock also warned on Monday against naivety in dealing with China’s economic policy, especially in projects by New Silk Road.
At the meeting under strict Corona conditions, the G7 summit of heads of state and government in Cornwall from June 11th to 13th is to be prepared. It will be the first major summit meeting with the new US President Joe Biden. During the tenure of his predecessor Donald Trump, the G7 had lost a lot of its importance, because Trump had little interest in the format of the talks. The competition between the autocracy and democracy systems is now breathing life into the format again. (ck / dpa)
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