G-7, without naming China, says concerned by situation in East and South China Seas

Gathering in western Japan for the G7 summit, leaders agree on the need to send a strong message regarding the territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
China's South Sea Fleet taking part in a drill in the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.
China's South Sea Fleet taking part in a drill in the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. PHOTO: AFP

Leaders of the Group of Seven (G-7) advanced economies on Friday (May 27) said they were concerned by the situation in the East and South China Seas, and stressed the importance of peaceful management and settlement of disputes.

They also endorsed the G-7 foreign ministers' statement on maritime security last month, which had angered China and led to Beijing summoning top envoys from the G-7 nations to express its anger.

In their statement last month, the foreign ministers had urged "all states to refrain from such actions as land reclamations" and "building of outposts... for military purposes".

Friday's communique issued at the end of the two-day G-7 summit also did not mention China by name. But Beijing lays claim to almost all of the South China Sea, despite conflicting partial claims from Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines.

Japan and China are involved in a separate dispute in the East China Sea.

 
 

Washington is not a claimant but has accused Beijing of militarising the contested waters.

The G-7 grouping comprises United States, France, Canada, Germany, Britain, Italy and Japan.

The leaders on Friday reiterated their commitment to maintaining a rules-based maritime order in accordance to international law and urged the settlement of disputes by peaceful means including through judicial procedures such as arbitration.

A ruling is expected within weeks on China's claims in a case that the Philippines had brought to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said in Japan on Wednesday that China must abide by the court's decision.

Meanwhile, the G-7 leaders also condemned "in the strongest terms" North Korea's fourth nuclear test in January and its subsequent launches using ballistic missle technology.

These acts pose a grave threat to regional and international peace and security, they said, adding that they deplored the human rights violations in North Korea.

And in light of the growing number of terror attacks around the world, the G-7 leaders said they will continue to work together to prevent the flow of foreign terrorist fighters and terrorism-related materials and equipment, as well as to counter terrorist financing.

The leaders also said they "encourage the temporary admission of refugees and the establishment of resettlement schemes, to alleviate pressure on countries hosting the largest numbers of refugees".

Germany had thrown open its borders last autumn to a wave of migrants, including refugees from Syria's civil war.

And some 40,000 migrants making the perilous crossing to Europe have been transferred to Italy since the start of the year, according to figures by United Nations refugee agency UNHCR and the coast guard.

waltsim@sph.com.sg