London [UK], May 15 (ANI): The Group of Seven nations G7 on Saturday reiterated the importance of maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific and raised concern over unilateral actions by Beijing in the East and South China Seas.
"We remind China of the need to uphold the principle of the UN Charter on peaceful settlement of disputes and to abstain from threats, coercion, intimidation measures or use of force," read a declaration by G7.
The G7 Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and the High Representative of the European Union, met in a fundamentally changed strategic and security environment.
"We remain seriously concerned about the situation in and around the East and South China Seas. We reiterate our strong opposition to any unilateral actions that could escalate tensions and undermine regional stability and the rules-based international order and express serious concern about reports of militarisation, coercion and intimidation in the region," added the declaration.
They reiterated the importance of maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific that is inclusive and based on the rule of law, the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, democratic principles, transparency, territorial integrity, and the peaceful and inclusive resolution of disputes.
They further expressed their intention to work together with like-minded countries in the region and reaffirmed support for the unity and centrality of ASEAN and committed to explore concrete cooperation in line with the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP).
Emphasizing the universal and unified character of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), G7 reaffirmed UNCLOS's important role in setting out the legal framework that governs all activities in the ocean and the seas and stressed that there is no legal basis for China's expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea.
"We reaffirm the importance of provisions laid down by UNCLOS on freedom of navigation, the right of innocent passage in the territorial sea. We stress that there is no legal basis for China's expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea. In this regard, we reiterate that the award rendered by the Arbitral Tribunal under Annex VII to UNCLOS on 12 July 2016 is a significant milestone and a useful basis for peacefully resolving disputes in the South China Sea. We urge China to fully comply with the award and to respect navigational rights and freedoms enshrined in UNCLOS," added the declaration.
On the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, G7 encouraged China to support, in line with international law, the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine and the integrity of its internationally recognized borders and to resolutely urge Russia to stop its military aggression against Ukraine.
"We call on China not to assist Russia in its war of aggression against Ukraine, not to undermine sanctions imposed on Russia for its attack against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, not to justify Russian action in Ukraine, and to desist from engaging in information manipulation, disinformation and other means to legitimise Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine," added the declaration.
Undescoring the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, G7 nations encouraged the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues and also supported Taiwan's meaningful participation in the World Health Assembly and WHO technical meetings.
They also raised the issue of human rights situation in China, particularly in Xinjiang and Tibet.
"In line with China's obligations under international and national law, we urge China to fully respect human rights. We urge China to complete the ratification of ILO conventions 29 and 105 and call for full implementation and for effective action against forced labour in practice. We intend to tackle instances of forced labour, including through our own available domestic means, including through raising awareness and providing advice and support for our business communities," added the declaration.
They urged the Chinese authorities to allow immediate, meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang and Tibet for independent observers, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and her potential visit to China.
The G7 nations also deplored the decline of pluralism and the limitation of civil and political rights in Hong Kong and called on the Hong Kong authorities to respect human rights, the rule of law, the independence of the judicial system and democratic principles.
"We urge China to act in accordance with its international commitments and its legal obligations, including those enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law, and to respect Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy and the rights and freedoms of its residents," added the declaration. (ANI)