(CNN) World leaders gathered in Japan vowed to “counter economic coercion” on Sunday in a thinly veiled warning toward China while also taking direct aim at Russia following its invasion of Ukraine as President Volodymyr Zelensky flew in for a dramatic appearance.
The Group of Seven (G7) talks in Hiroshima are seeking common ground on a host of global issues, including how to confront Beijing’s growing military and economic assertiveness as well as the war raging in Europe.
Differences persist between the United States and Europe in how to manage their increasingly fraught relationships with China, the world’s second largest economy.
But the group issued a joint statement on Sunday that hit out at what leaders called a “disturbing rise in incidents of economic coercion that seek to exploit economic vulnerabilities and dependencies”.
“We will work together to ensure that attempts to weaponize economic dependencies by forcing G7 members and our partners including small economies to comply and conform will fail and face consequences,” the group said.
Russia remains a key focus of this weekend’s gathering, which was delivered an added jolt of drama with an appearance by Zelensky who will address the leaders in person on Sunday.
“Japan. G7. Important meetings with partners and friends of Ukraine. Security and enhanced cooperation for our victory. Peace will become closer today,” Zelensky tweeted moments after a French government plane ferrying the wartime leader landed at Hiroshima airport.
His attendance underscores the pressing need to maintain western unity in the face of Russian aggression. There is growing fear that political support for Ukraine could be waning, lending urgency to Zelensky’s appeals for more advanced weapons and tighter sanctions on Moscow.
In G7 meetings Friday, Biden told his counterparts he was dropping objections to providing Ukrainians F16 fighter jets and would train Ukrainian pilots in the United States, a major advance in US military support for the country.
Biden is expected to unveil a $375 million military aid package to Ukraine after the summit hears from Zelensky, officials familiar with the matter said, but leaders are confronting a wide-ranging set of issues beyond the war-torn country during their talks, including climate change and emerging artificial intelligence technologies.
A common approach to China?
The matter of China has also taken on new significance as Beijing escalates its military provocations around Taiwan and the South China Sea.
Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, said the statement would list “key elements on which all G7 countries are aligned when it comes to dealing with” China. He said the language would be straightforward and not hostile, and said nothing in the document should come as a surprise to Beijing.
Biden’s aides have said they hope to emerge from this week’s summit having coalesced America’s allies around a general approach to Beijing, while acknowledging each country will deal with China in their own way.
The joint statement that ultimately emerged on Sunday made no specific mention of China — while explicitly referencing Russia — but its intended audience was unmistakably Beijing’s leadership.
The leaders called for enhancing supply chain resilience, hitting back against “harmful industrial subsidies,” and protecting sensitive technologies crucial to national security — all areas that leaders have expressed concerns about in recent years in relation to China’s economic practices.
Western leaders and officials were more direct in framing the measures as a response to threats from China in comments made around the statement.
Ahead of its release on Saturday, the UK released a statement on G7 measures against economic coercion, which pointed to China’s use of its “economic power to coerce countries including Australia and Lithuania over political disputes.”
China is “engaged in a concerted and strategic economic contest,” and nations “should be clear-eyed” about the growing challenge we face,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in the statement released by Downing Street, which also referenced Russia’s “weaponization” of Europe’s energy supplies.
European Commission President Ursual von der Leyen welcomed the G7 action in a statement Saturday that nations must be “aware of the risk of weaponization of interdependencies,” but “urged de-risking not decoupling” — a term she has used to refer to how the EU should approach its economic relationship with China.
Last year, the EU launched a case at the WTO accusing Beijing of “discriminatory trade practices against Lithuania,” following Beijing’s condemning of the Baltic’s state policy toward Taiwan, the island democracy China’s Communist Party claims as its own.
China remains an area where there are significant differences. For example, French President Emmanuel Macron said last month that Europe should not follow the United States into war with China. And many European nations are wary of reducing economic ties with Beijing.
Still, Biden and fellow leaders have plenty of common ground.
“As we’ve emphasized already as the United States, all of the G7 are looking to de-risk, not decouple, from China,” a senior US official said.
“And you’ll also see that we’re all aligned in principles that will guide each of the relationships in other ways,” the official continued, citing collective concerns over human rights, economic practices and evolving technologies.
China has already pushed back on ahead of G7 discussions, with its Foreign Ministry on Thursday posting a more than 5,000 word document on its website that reached back as far as 1960s Cuba to point to what it described as examples of “America’s Coercive Diplomacy and Its Harm.”
“The US often accuses other countries of using great power status, coercive policies and economic coercion to pressure other countries into submission and engage in coercive diplomacy,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in a regular press briefing in Beijing Friday.
“The fact is, the US is the very origin of coercive diplomacy. It is the US and the US alone who owns the copyrights of coercive diplomacy,” he said, adding that China has “no taste for coercion and bullying.”
Climate change will also factor into Saturday’s meetings, with a joint statement expected from the G7 leaders on accelerating a clean energy transition.
“We are taking this element of President Biden’s agenda … and its emphasis on climate action and good jobs as complementary and making it the blueprint for broader G7 action,” the senior official said, previewing “deepening” commitments from other G7 countries.
Leaders will also attend an event aimed at scaling up infrastructure investments in low and middle-income countries, a move toward countering China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Biden is balancing his world leader talks with updates from the standoff over the US debt ceiling in Washington — a “subject of interest” in the president’s summit meetings, according to Sullivan.
“Countries want to have a sense of how these negotiations are going to play out. And the president has expressed confidence that he believes that we can drive to an outcome where we do avoid default, and part of the reason that he’s returning home tomorrow, rather than continuing with the rest of the trip, is so that he can help lead the effort to bring it home,” Sullivan said.
Speaking to reporters as he met Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Japan, Biden said he was not concerned “at all” about negotiations with House Republicans to avoid a default.
“This goes in stages. I’ve been in these negotiations before,” Biden said.
Biden, who departed a leaders’ dinner early on Friday to return to his hotel to receive additional information from staff, has gotten continual updates on the negotiations underway in Washington.
This story has been updated with additional developments.
CNN’s Phil Mattingly contributed to this report.