President Joe Biden said Sunday he did not want to hold a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin because he wasn’t interested in a ‘contest’ after he raises serious issues with his counterpart.
‘This is not a contest about who can do better in front of a press conference or try to embarrass each other,’ Biden said at a press conference at the end of the G7 summit.
He spoke after the White House announced Biden would address the media solo following the summit meeting in Geneva.
He spoke as he declared the U.S. and western nations to be in a ‘contest with autocrats’ for the support of people around the world.
He said a joint event with Putin could be a distraction from his substantive goals.
‘I don’t want to get into being diverted by did they shake hands who talked the most and the rest,’ he told reporters.
‘He can say what he thinks the meeting is about and I will say what I think the meeting was about. That’s how I’m going to handle it,’ Biden declared.
‘Russia has engaged in activities which we believe are contrary to international norms. But they have also bitten off some real problems they’re going to have problems chewing on,’ Biden said.
Leaders who met for their final day at the G7 in Cornwall issued a final communique where they called on China to respect ‘fundamental freedoms’ and called for a ‘science-based’ probe of the origins of the coronavirus.
The text of the communique included a detailed passage on China, after haggling between member nations over how far to push Beijing.
‘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 and the Basic Law,’ according to the communique.
The agreement also called for a ‘timely, transparent, expert-led, and science-based WHO-convened Phase 2 COVID-19 Origins study’ of the origins of the coronavirus in China, in reference to the World Health Organization.
It was a reference to the Phase 2 study on the origins of the virus. Biden has already asked the U.S. intelligence community to produce its own report on the origins of the virus.
President Joe Biden and his team have been pushing for a strong statement on human rights in China at the G7 summit. It was not certain Sunday that a final communique would mention China by name, although a senior official said there was ‘unanimity in terms of a willingness to call out human rights abuses and violations of fundamental freedoms’
Said an administration official: ‘Three years ago, China wasn’t even mentioned in the G7 communique. This year there is a section on China that speaks to the importance of coordinating on and responding to China’s non-market economic practices and the need to speak out against human rights abuses, including in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.’
According to the document: ‘We remain seriously concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas and strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo and increase tensions.’
Another section deals with forced labor practices, as well as supply chain issues.
The language came after it was not yet clear on Saturday that it would mention China by name.
Leaders attending the summit have made contending with China’s economic ambitions and countering its human rights practices a prime focus, even as they seek to unify the richest democracies against climate change and stamping out the coronavirus.
But tactical splits within the coalition have caused aides to keep working on final text of the communique, with late doubts about how far it will go.
‘I would say there was unanimity in terms of a willingness to call out human rights abuses and violations of fundamental freedoms that invoke our shared values,’ said a senior administration official.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II (5L), reacts after posing for a family photograph with, from left, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, France’s President Emmanuel Macron, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Italy’s Prime minister Mario Draghi, President of the European Council Charles Michel, and US President Joe Biden during an evening reception at The Eden Project in south west England on June 11, 2021. – G7 leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the United States meet this weekend for the first time in nearly two years, for three-day talks in Carbis Bay, Cornwall
The document calls for China to respect human rights and mentions Xinjiang, where Uyghurs are being detained
China is already pushing back against the document
Even if it isn’t named directly, Beijing isn’t waiting to push back.
‘The days when global decisions were dictated by a small group of countries are long gone,’ a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in London told Reuters.
‘We always believe that countries, big or small, strong or weak, poor or rich, are equals, and that world affairs should be handled through consultation by all countries,’ the spokesman added.
The G7 leaders also have agreed to coordinate their efforts to keep supply chains online amid semiconductor shortages and other challenges.
‘There was commitment to take action in response to what we’re seeing,’ said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity during a press call.
I heard from everyone that what binds us together as a G7 partnership, more than anything else, are the shared values of democracies. And that, because of that partnership, you know, it’s our obligation to call out human rights abuses and other — other violations of fundamental freedoms that calls us into — that really invoke our shared values.
The administration’s hope for a strong statement has met resistance from some European allies, with Germany and Italy showing more hesitancy about a direct statement.
The White House is pushing for strong language that would call out China for forced labor, child labor, and treatment of Muslim Uyguher’s in Xinjiang Province.
The administration official described several ‘areas of convergence.’
These included ‘working together to respond to China’s non-market economic practices that are harmful and distorted to the global economy.’ Western nations have long chafed at China’s child labor and other practices. The leaders are also ‘willing to speak out on human rights abuses, including in Xinjiang’ – a reference to the treatment of Uyghurs and other minorities.
The State Department has labeled their treatment ‘genocide.’
‘Genocide and crimes against humanity occurred during the year against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang,’ according to an agency 2020 report on human rights practices in China.
The nations have also agreed on ‘taking action’ when it relates to supply chains, ‘including from Xinjiang..
Reuters reported that through the structure of the World Trade Organization, China would be designated as a ‘non-market economy’ in a way that would set up a process to determine if Chinese exports are being sold at unfair prices – which could allow for retaliatory duties.