G7 leaders and China

BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz - The Philippine Star

The leaders of seven of the world’s most powerful nations collectively described as democracies or the G7 nations recently held their annual meeting in Hiroshima, Japan. The conference site is held in the different nations on rotation. The choice of Hiroshima is symbolic because this was the city that was destroyed with an atomic bomb during the Second World War. The symbolic importance is to emphasize the importance of ending the possibility of a nuclear confrontation because of the destruction it can cause.

The final leaders’ final communiqué covered a wide range of topics.  However, from the viewpoint of the Philippines, it was Paragraph #52 that was of utmost importance. This is what the paragraph states:

“There is no legal basis for China’s expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea, and we oppose China’s militarization activities in the region. We emphasize the universal and unified character of the UNCLOS and reaffirm UNCLOS’s important role in setting out the legal framework that governs all activities in the oceans and the seas.  We reiterate that the award rendered by the Arbitral Tribunal on July 12, 2016 is a significant milestone, which is legally binding upon the parties to those proceedings and a useful basis for peacefully resolving disputes between the parties.”

This arbitral ruling recognized Philippine ownership and territorial sovereignty within the territories in its Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ). It therefore can be interpreted in maintaining that the Chinese forcible takeover of the maritime area within the Philippine EEZ is a violation of international law and can be construed as an invasion of Philippine territory.

The support of the United States, Japan and Western European countries for the Philippine condemnation of Chinese militarization of Philippine territories is the basis for our country’s recognition of United States and Japan as our allies. It is important to note that this alliance is not based on any simple desire to become “friends” with the United States but a pragmatic decision to align ourselves with countries who have the same interests as our country.

If the Philippines must rightfully do all it can to regain the territories that China has invaded and continues to occupy illegally, then the Philippines must seek alliances with those who have the same views.

It is important to remember that the Arbitral Ruling which recognized Philippine sovereignty of the territory within its EEZ was the result of the filing of cases in the International Tribunal by the government of then president Noynoy Aquino.

The G7 Communiqué also included the following statement: “We remain seriously concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas. We strongly oppose any unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force or coercion.”

There are recent statements by Beijing that express strong objection to the G7 statement on the situation in the South China Sea. China is warning that the stand of the G7 is a provocation. It should be pointed out to the Beijing government that the provocation began with the illegal seizure of territories within the Philippine EEZ. This situation has become worse when Beijing began transforming the reefs that it illegally seized by force, and transformed them into Chinese military bases. It is also ironic that Beijing continues to protest the EDCA bases when it is China that has illegally constructed Chinese-owned and controlled bases in Philippine territory.

Another G7 statement from its Communiqué is the following: “We reaffirm the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait as indispensable to security and prosperity in the international community. There is no change in the basic positions of the G7 members on Taiwan, including stated one-China policies. We call for a peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues.”

To reiterate a previously quoted statement : “We remain seriously concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas. We strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion.”

It is clear that the building of Chinese bases in Philippine territorial waters and the harassment of Filipino fishermen inside the Philippine EEZ are illegal acts of force and coercion.

The G7 Communiqué had several other major topics. Among these are a condemnation of the invasion by Russia in Ukraine; a commitment to nuclear disarmament; a free and open Indo-Pacific; sustainable development; addressing humanitarian crisis focusing on women and girls; climate change; environment; energy security; clean energy economy; economic resilience and economic security; free and fair trade; food security; global health architecture; investment in human capital; inclusive and equitable quality education; governance of new digital technologies; development of science and technology; gender equality and empowerment of women and girls; human rights, refugees, migration and democracy; countering terrorism, violent extremism and transnational organized crime; upholding rule of law and finally, on China.

The Communiqué paints an ideal world.  The challenge is in the implementation.

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Write Things’ Writefest 2023 is ending.  But for those who have asked, there is a second hybrid run (and the final one for 2023) for kids and teens on June 26, 28, 30, July 3, 5, 7. Email [email protected] or call 0945. 2273216 for details.

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