While world leaders discuss worries over China’s assertiveness, the latter hits back asking G7 nations not to point fingers at things outside their portfolio
Ise-Shima: World leaders yesterday kicked off talks dominated by the global economy and worries over China’s growing clout — and were told by Beijing to keep their noses out of its business.
(From L) Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, French President Francois Hollande, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, US President Barack Obama, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, European Council President Donald Tusk and British Prime Minister David Cameron visit Ise-Jingu Shrine in Ise in Mie prefecture yesterday. Pic/AFP
Presidents and prime ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) rich nations huddled in Japan for two days of discussions focused on how to stoke demand and encourage growth. But China’s growing assertiveness, particularly in bitter territorial disputes in the South China Sea was providing ever-louder background music, with European Council President Donald Tusk saying the group needed to take a “tough stance” on the hot-button issue.
Beijing swiftly launched a stinging broadside against the G7 — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US — which it said should not pursue “selfish interests”. “G7 should focus on its own duties, that is economic cooperation, it should not point fingers at something outside its portfolio,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular briefing in Beijing.
The Xinhua news agency, Beijing’s official mouthpiece, reinforced the point with a blunt commentary that said the group “should mind its own business” and accused Japan of exploiting its host status to try to isolate China.
Both Washington and Tokyo — which is locked in a separate dispute with Beijing over islands in the East China Sea — have warned against China stoking tensions in the contested waters. Beijing’s rebuke came as the G7 opened its 2016 summit at Ise-Shima, a mountainous region.
Leaders, including US President Barack Obama visited Ise Jingu, a shrine complex that sits at the spiritual heart of Japan’s native Shintoism. Abe’s decision to take his counterparts to the site — also a hotspot for domestic tourists — has raised eyebrows among some critics, however, who say Shinto retains some of the nationalist overtones with which it was imbued when it was the state religion.
Several bilateral meetings took place yesterday.
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