G7, Scholz urge China to uphold international law, respect human rights
German chancellor also criticizes Beijing for ‘closing off’ its economy and not granting similar market access to European companies.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Friday urged China to stand up for the international order and put pressure on Russia to "immediately" stop its war against Ukraine — a message that was reiterated later in the day by G7 foreign ministers.
Both the chancellor, who was speaking during a visit to Beijing, as well as the G7 ministers, who issued a joint communiqué following a meeting in the German city of Münster, also raised concerns about China's record on human rights, especially when it comes to the treatment of the Uyghur Muslim minority in the Xinjiang region.
"As a global political player and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, China has a responsibility for peace in the world," Scholz told reporters.
"I have told [Chinese] President Xi [Jinping] that it is important for China to use its influence on Russia," he added. "It is a matter of adhering to the principles of the United Nations Charter that we have all agreed upon, principles such as the sovereignty and territorial integrity of any country, which is also an important concern for China."
Scholz, who spoke standing next to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, stressed the need to cooperate with Beijing on preserving biodiversity and fighting climate change, but expressed concern about China "closing off many sectors" of its international economy to foreign competition and not respecting intellectual property.
In the same vein, Scholz urged China to uphold human rights, and said that China could not dodge blowback about its much-criticized treatment of the Uyghurs by claiming this was an internal matter.
The issue of human rights "applies especially to the protection of minority rights," the chancellor said. "All members of the United Nations have committed themselves to this. Reminding people of this obligation and calling for the implementation of these rights, for example in the province of Xinjiang, is therefore not interference in internal affairs."
In their joint communiqué later on Friday, the G7 foreign ministers also admonished China "to uphold the principles of the U.N. Charter on peaceful settlement of disputes" — a call that was particularly directed at tensions around Taiwan, which Scholz had also raised.
Beijing must "abstain from threats, coercion, intimidation, or the use of force," the G7 ministers said with respect to Taiwan. "We strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion."
"We will continue to raise our concerns with China on its reported human rights violations and abuses, including in Xinjiang and Tibet," the G7 communiqué further reads. "We reiterate our concerns over the continued erosion of Hong Kong’s rights, freedoms and autonomy, and call on China to act in accordance with its international commitments and legal obligations."
The foreign ministers also criticized Iran's violent crackdown on protesters, threatened further sanctions against Tehran for its supply of drones to Russia and stressed that "Iran must never develop a nuclear weapon."
The G7 ministers also condemned North Korea's "unprecedented series of unlawful ballistic missile launches" and warned that "any nuclear test or other reckless action must be met with a swift, united, and robust international response."