By Da Zhigang
As a diplomatic barometer for the upcoming Group of Seven (G7) summit to be held in Hiroshima next month, the G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting concluded recently. It is worth noting that the tone of this G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting was filled with an increasingly strong tone, and the subtext of the agenda was also permeated with a nervy atmosphere.
While warning Russia of "serious consequences" if it uses chemical or nuclear weapons, and warning some countries that they will "face severe costs" if they do not cooperate with sanctions against Russia, the so-called "China threat" has also become a topic that the G7 is keen to hype up, with China's nuclear weapons mysteriously becoming a new target for criticism. So why did the G7 foreign ministers tear off the fig leaf and target China with the so-called "Chinese expansion of its nuclear arsenal" in their joint statement?
Firstly, the hype around the so-called Chinese nuclear weapons issue is part of the G7's strategic considerations for containing China. In the past, their joint statements mainly emphasized the so-called "increasingly active Chinese maritime military power," and hyped up the idea that "China uses its strength to change the status quo and coerce other countries with economic leverage," while smearing China's Belt and Road Initiative and the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind. However, with China's deepening participation in multilateral cooperation mechanisms such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS), and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, and its continuous promotion of mutually beneficial regional supply chains, industrial chains, and institutional cooperation, some of the demonizing rhetoric against China has been losing its market. Recently, there have been numerous visitors to China, the Chinese market is bustling, and China's Global Development Initiatives have won people's hearts. All of these reflect that China is an indispensable driving force for global economic recovery.
Therefore, finding new excuses to demonize China has become a consensus among the G7 countries. Against the backdrop of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the increasing new sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Europe on Russia, and the increasingly complex and changing international situation, it is easy to find fault with China. Therefore, the new excuse targeting China's nuclear weapons has emerged. In fact, the U.S. possesses the largest and most advanced nuclear arsenal in the world, and it has deployed nuclear weapons in many of its allies. In recent years, the U.S. has been engaged in strategic nuclear deterrence and the expansion of nuclear sharing while withdrawing from and violating multiple international arms control agreements in the global military control field.
Secondly, the emphasis on the so-called Chinese nuclear weapons issue highlights the hypocrisy of the G7's advocacy of nuclear disarmament. The joint statement of the G7 foreign ministers repeatedly emphasized that member countries have reached consensus on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and confirmed that the G7 will promote corresponding measures. As the rotating chair of this G7 foreign ministers' meeting and next month's Hiroshima Summit, Japan has once again promoted the initiative to build a World without Nuclear Weapons based on the Hiroshima Action Plan and the historical experience of Hiroshima and Nagasaki being bombed with atomic bombs. This move has been welcomed by other G7 members.
However, when we peel off the clamor of nuclear disarmament and a World without Nuclear Weapons, we seem to see more clearly the hypocritical intentions outlined in the joint statement of the G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting. This can be seen from the establishment of the AUKUS security alliance by the U.S., Australia, and the UK. The open transfer of nuclear submarine power reactors and weapons-grade highly enriched uranium to Australia clearly violates the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The serious confrontation between Russia and Europe and the U.S. on nuclear disarmament is not only the responsibility of one side. After Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the suspension of the implementation of the New START Treaty in February, the Biden administration also said that it would no longer share relevant information in accordance with the Treaty. In addition, Japan, which shows its determination to build a World without Nuclear Weapons, has not ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons so far. Instead, it is proud of enjoying the nuclear umbrella of the U.S. and even opposes and obstructs the U.S. from giving up its policy of first use of nuclear weapons. It is not difficult to see that the hypocrisy of the G7 around nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament is not an exception.
Finally, exaggerating the so-called "China's nuclear weapons issue" cannot shake China's path of peaceful development. The joint statement has repeatedly emphasized or hinted at "greater transparency of China’s nuclear weapon policies, plans, and capabilities", but the G7's groundless accusations and attacks mentioned above are extremely pale.
It is a disregard for the facts. There is no doubt that China has always firmly followed the nuclear strategy of self-defense, adhered to the policy of no first use of nuclear weapons, and kept its nuclear force at the minimum level required to maintain national security. China is the only country among the five nuclear-weapon states to have made this pledge. The G7 selectively ignores China's solemn commitment, tramples on China's image of peaceful development, as well as the concept of international peace and development.
It is confusing the public. China also actively participates in multilateral arms control processes including under the cooperation mechanism of the five nuclear-weapon states, the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, and the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly. G7's disregard for China's goodwill response and constructive efforts cannot represent the mainstream voice of the international community, and it also shows contempt for the healthy interaction of international nuclear disarmament mechanisms.
China is not afraid of these tricks. "For any country, as long as they do not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against China, they don't need to worry about being threatened by China's nuclear weapons. This is the most meaningful transparency a country can provide." This is the most direct and transparent statement of China's response to the G7's allegation that "China needs to increase the transparency of nuclear weapons". It is also China's most vocal declaration of defending the path of peace and development by means of self-defense, and furthermore, it is China's most solemn commitment to maintain global peace and security.
Too many vile deeds will inevitably lead to one's self-destruction. Pointing fingers at other countries' strategic security while downplaying their own military control obligations, the joint statement of the G7 foreign ministers' meeting pointed at the so-called "China's nuclear weapons issue" and made irresponsible remarks. The international community disagrees with this today, and so will it in the future.
(The author is a researcher at the Institute of Northeast Asian Studies at Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences and the chief expert of the Northeast Asia Strategic Research Institute.)
Editor's note: Originally published on huanqiu.com, this article is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information and opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn.