The Group of Seven's resolve to defend the international order is likely only to have strengthened after seeing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy travel all the way to Japan to meet the leaders of the major democracies to drum up support for fighting back against Russia's invasion.

Shortly after Zelenskyy arrived in Hiroshima on Saturday to join the summit discussions, the G-7 issued a communique pledging to uphold the "free and open international order based on the rule of law" and expressed strong opposition to "any unilateral attempts to change the peacefully established status of territories by force or coercion."

But the statement may not mean that the G-7 is on the same page in dealing with another autocratic nation, China, in which many members have huge economic stakes even as they are wary of its growing military assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific.

While agreeing to bolster sanctions against Russia and vowing to support Ukraine "for as long as it takes," the G-7 members appeared to use more nuanced statements when it came to their relations with Beijing, saying, "We stand prepared to build constructive and stable relations with China, recognizing the importance of engaging candidly with and expressing our concerns directly to China."

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (front C) and other Group of Seven leaders visit the World Heritage-listed Itsukushima Shrine in Hatsukaichi in Hiroshima Prefecture on May 19, 2023, on the first day of the three-day summit in the western Japan city of Hiroshima. Pictured from left are European Council President Charles Michel, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, U.S. President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. (Pool photo) (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

"Our policy approaches are not designed to harm China nor do we seek to thwart China's economic progress and development...We are not decoupling or turning inwards. At the same time, we recognize that economic resilience requires de-risking and diversifying," it added.

The annual G-7 summit hosted this year by Japan -- the sole Asian member of the group -- has been a key opportunity to bring greater attention to the Indo-Pacific, and therefore to issues related to China, including tensions over Taiwan, a self-ruled democratic island which Beijing views as its own territory.

The G-7 consists of Britain, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and the United States, plus the European Union.

Riley Walters, an expert on East Asia at the Hudson Institute in Washington, indicated that the G-7's handling of Russia's invasion of its neighbor will be perceived as a test case for how the group deals with any potential military aggression in the Indo-Pacific.

Zelenskyy's attendance at Sunday's summit sessions, which was welcomed by G-7 leaders with open arms, helped show their "resolve against any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force -- whether that's in Ukraine by Russia or Taiwan by China," he said.

"It also shows that G-7 members are willing to support countries that are under attack, like Ukraine, even though the U.S., NATO, or Japan don't have any formal alliance with Ukraine," Walters said.

In moving in tandem with other G-7 peers in seeking to pressure Russia, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has emphasized that the security of Europe and the security of the Indo-Pacific are inseparable and that "Ukraine today may be East Asia tomorrow."

European nations have been stepping up security engagements with the Indo-Pacific amid China's maritime assertiveness, given the significance of the region in shaping the future international order, said Bonji Ohara, a senior fellow at Japanese think tank the Sasakawa Peace Foundation.

Britain dispatched a carrier strike group led by the Queen Elizabeth to the Indo-Pacific in 2021 for the first time, and announced ahead of the three-day summit in Hiroshima that it plans to deploy it again to the region in 2025.

A German navy frigate, meanwhile, made a port call in Tokyo in 2021, marking the first visit to Japan by a military vessel of the country in about 20 years. France, with overseas territories in the Indo-Pacific, has been sending its warships into the South China Sea, where Beijing has been pushing its territorial claims.

But Ohara, a former naval attache in China who is well-versed in Chinese politics, was doubtful whether the G-7's European members, apart from close U.S. ally Britain, would take actions that would risk entering into "confrontation" with China.

The G-7's seeming convergence of position on the Taiwan issue was called into question when French President Emmanuel Macron said in April that Europe should not be a "follower" of either the United States or China, cautioning against being drawn into a crisis over the island amid the two countries' rivalry.

Macron made the statement in a media interview during his visit to China, where European plane maker Airbus SE clinched a purchase agreement for 160 commercial aircraft.

Possibly to play down any concerns over Macron's remarks, which triggered a backlash from elsewhere in Europe and the United States, the G-7 leaders doubled down in the communique on the "importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait" and noted that "there is no change in the basic positions of the G-7 members on Taiwan."

On the economic front, the G-7 members agreed to launch a platform to prevent practices of economic coercion from being used as a tool to pursue political objectives.

The move apparently takes aim at China, with Australia and Lithuania among the countries that were hit by coercive economic actions, such as being slapped with tariffs and seeing some imports suspended, on tensions over the origin of the novel coronavirus and Taiwan issues.

Giulio Pugliese, a lecturer at the Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies in Oxford University, said cooperation among G-7 members to enhance their economic security needs to be "intensified," but signaled that countries may differ in the level of measures they feel are necessary.

"Some countries may not want to fully alienate China," the expert in international relations said, while warning against steps to boost economic security becoming "protectionist" polices that would likely be unpopular among emerging and developing "Global South" nations.

Many of the nations have not sided with the United States and its allies over Russia's war in Ukraine. But collaboration with them is seen as key in the G-7 efforts to uphold their vision of a rules-based international order challenged by countries such as Russia and China.

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