HIROSHIMA, Japan — Fighting back against China’s aggressive use of economic power, President Joe Biden and the leaders of other advanced democracies are working on a collective strategy to thwart what they say are Beijing’s attempts to intimidate businesses and corporations. nations for political gain in the Group of Seven. summit this weekend.
The members are considering ways to defend themselves against what they describe as coercive tactics that China employs to wield political influence. Far more than at previous G7 summits, the leaders meeting in Hiroshima are drawing attention to an issue they say is a worrying consequence of Beijing’s growing economic power.
Addressing the meetings on Saturday, Biden and his counterparts planned to “outline a common set of tools to address the concerns facing each of our countries, including economic coercion,” Jake Sullivan, national security adviser for the United States, told reporters. the White House.
A 41-page summit communiqué released on Saturday made overtures to China, but also included a pledge that we “will build resilience to economic coercion.” Succinct as it is, the statement showed that there is at least a minimum level of unity when it comes to countering China’s economic influence.
The statement also announced the creation of a new initiative to “increase our collective assessment, preparedness, deterrence, and response to economic coercion.”
“There has never been a statement that mentioned coercion before,” Rahm Emanuel, the US ambassador to Japan, told NBC News in an interview on Friday. “You can’t find it.”
“Given the frequency with which China resorts to this instrument and tool, you cannot have an ad hoc strategy,” he added. “You have to have a coordinated strategy that is well thought out, with all the tools available, and know how to respond.”
For its part, China says coercion is a problem, but sees the US as the culprit. In a briefing earlier in the week, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that the United States is employing coercive tactics with the aim of “repressing Chinese companies.”
“No one is more qualified than the United States to be charged with economic coercion,” Wenbin said. “…If the G7 members really care about economic security, they should ask the US for global industry and supply chains, and stop dividing the world into two markets and systems, which is the main economic threat of the world right now.”
Reaching any kind of international consensus on China is complicated. The G7 countries are scattered around the world and have various trade and diplomatic relations with Beijing.
French President Emmanuel Macron, a member of the G7, visited China last month and caused quite a stir in the West when he suggested in an interview that France should strive for “strategic autonomy” and resist falling under US or Chinese domination. .
“In the run-up to the G7 summit, French officials have privately complained about US pressure to endorse a more adversarial approach with Beijing,” Noah Barkin, a senior adviser at the firm, wrote in a newsletter. Rhodium Group research.
Identifying instances of China’s coercive use of economic power is not always easy.
“These things are very specific and almost idiosyncratic, on a case-by-case basis, and often difficult to prove,” Thomas Cynkin of the Atlantic Council told a news conference, citing an example of banana exports from the Philippines rotting on a dock in China. and asking if it is because Beijing was retaliating for some perceived slight or if it was a simple mistake.
Still, think tanks have been recording instances of what they describe as an abuse of China’s enormous influence as the world’s second-biggest economy.
A report from March Center for Strategic and International Studies he pointed to a Taiwanese government office that was opened in Lithuania two years ago. China considers Taiwan part of its territory under its “one China” principle, and opening an office under Taiwan’s name contravenes a Chinese rule, the report said.
The reaction was fierce. After the opening was announced, China refused permits for Lithuanian food imports and companies in the Eastern European country had difficulty getting approval for Chinese contracts, the report added.
China last month opened a cybersecurity review of Micron Technology, a US maker of memory chips. The move was seen as retaliation for the Biden administration’s imposition of export controls aimed at depriving Beijing of the computer chips that underpin its military and economic expansion.
“They have gone from targeting countries to coercing companies,” said Emanuel, a former Chicago mayor and White House chief of staff under Barack Obama.
The G7 communique does not specify how member countries should stop China. To mitigate any punitive action taken by China requires coordinated action and resolve by the US and its allies, analysts said. If China were to boycott a certain company, it is possible that other nations would respond by stepping in and offering lines of credit so that the business would not collapse.
Earlier this year, the European Union reached an agreement that allows it to retaliate against nations that use their economic muscle to make other countries bend to their will. As a deterrent, the EU would hit violators with import tariffs, for example.
“If you have coordinated, unified, collaborative action, you can beat economic coercion,” Emanuel said.