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G7 leaders unite against China rights abuses in Xinjiang, Hong Kong

Boris Johnson. (Chatham House/Flickr)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy nations have agreed to challenge China’s “nonmarket economic practices” and call out Beijing for rights abuses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

At the end of a three-day summit in southwestern England on June 13, the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States said their countries would continue to “consult on collective approaches to challenging nonmarket policies and practices which undermine the fair and transparent operation of the global economy.”

“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 leaders also said in their final joint communiqué.

Beijing is facing growing international criticism over its policies in Xinjiang, with the United States using the word genocide to describe the treatment of Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim indigenous people.

Hong Kong is a part of China but has been governed under the principle of “one country, two systems,” meaning the former British colony has its own legal system and rights, including free speech and freedom of press. But many in Hong Kong, as well as rights groups and Western democracies, have accused Beijing of eroding those freedoms and autonomy in recent years.

Beijing has repeatedly hit back against what it perceives as attempts by Western powers to contain China.

A statement issued by the Chinese Embassy in London on June 14 denounced the G7 statement, accusing it of “lies, rumors, and baseless accusations.”

“The Group of Seven takes advantage of Xinjiang-related issues to engage in political manipulation and interfere in China’s internal affairs, which we firmly oppose,” an embassy spokesman said in a statement.

A day earlier, U.S. President Joe Biden told reporters at the G7 summit that democracies were in a global contest with “autocratic governments,” and that the G7 had to deliver viable alternatives.

“We’re in a contest, not with China per se…with autocrats, autocratic governments around the world, as to whether or not democracies can compete with them in a rapidly changing 21st century,” he told reporters.