The Group of Seven (G-7) summit communiqué (pdf) issued on June 13 reveals a tough stance against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), unsurprisingly on issues including the origin of COVID-19, human rights, Hong Kong autonomy, and security across the Taiwan Strait and in the Indo-Pacific region. It also mentions economic and trade issues and “the full implementation of WTO rules to integrate into the world trading system,” obviously with the aim of curbing the CCP’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
“We also see that liberal democracies and open societies face pressure from authoritarian regimes,” said Charles Michel, president of the European Council, following the summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall. “This challenge has prompted us to join forces during the G-7, not only to be able to respond under pressure or attack but also to spread our values of freedom, rule of law, and respect for human rights.”
The CCP’s top leaders should not have been surprised by the results, so they have deliberately adopted a low-profile and downgraded response. Only the CCP’s embassy in London spoke out, stating that the CCP was “gravely concerned and firmly opposed to this.” The embassy continued to deny facts and called the G-7 leaders, together with leaders from the EU, Australia, India, South Korea, and South Africa, a “small circle.” The CCP’s ambassador Zheng Zeguang said on June 14 that the CCP “upholds principles and has its bottom line.” However, the CCP’s top brass had to step back from its so-called bottom line.
June 14 is Duanwu Festival, also known as the Dragon Boat Festival, and the Foreign Ministry of the CCP did not arrange for a press conference on that day. The statement from the CCP’s London embassy was obviously of too low a level. It is reasonable that the CCP’s official mouthpieces should play the role of the Foreign Ministry to speak up on behalf of its top leaders.
However, neither Xinhua news agency, the People’s Daily, nor the CCP’s online military outlets reproduced the embassy’s statement. Only Global Times published the full text.
The first thing Xinhua did on June 14 was to publish an article titled “Under the Surface of United, the G-7 Group Is Divided.” Then it published a second article titled “Media and Personnel from Various Countries Have Commented G-7 Summit ‘Has Come Up Short.’” The two articles continued to carry out the efforts of the CCP to divide Western countries and degrade the G-7 Summit, but they haven’t spoken up for the top members of the CCP at all. The People’s Daily and the CCP’s military online propaganda outlets have no coverage of the G-7 Summit.
The CCP’s top brass changed their previous practice of responding in a high-profile “wolf warrior” manner, probably for two reasons. On the one hand, the CCP was trying to minimize the negative impact and keep more Chinese people in the dark. On the other hand, the CCP is probably caught in a dilemma, fearing that a high-profile response would lead to a further impasse. The CCP knows that it is not facing “a small circle,” but rather there is a huge disparity in strength between the CCP and the external world. Internally, there have also been continuous doubts. The CCP has no choice but to go soft for the time being.
Another possibility could be that the CCP wants to observe the progress of the 2021 Brussels summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the U.S.–Russia summit before making an assessment of different responses.
No matter what the possibility is, this softening is a rare sight compared to the continuous high-profile assertiveness of the CCP in the past few months. The top brass of the Communist Party will not easily admit their cowardice, let alone admit their mistakes, and this backing off may be only temporary.
In any case, the top echelon of the CCP has tasted the more severe consequences of provoking the United States and posing retaliatory sanctions against the EU, and it does not have the courage to play “wolf warriors” again.
In order to pull wool over the eyes of the people, Xinhua continues to vigorously report on Xi Jinping and the Dragon Boat Festival, Hubei Shiyan gas explosion, and so on. It also issued four consecutive reports on the pandemic in Guangdong, including “National Health Commission: 23 New Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 on June 13, Including 4 Local Cases,” “Guangdong Has 13 New Confirmed Cases of Local Cases, All Reported in Guangzhou,” “11 Districts of Guangzhou City to Lift the Closure Management Measures,” and “Guangzhou Decides to Postpone High School Entrance Examinations to July”.
It is rare for Xinhua to report so much negative news about the pandemic. It shows that the CCP is eager to cover up the influence of the G-7 statement at the cost of exposing the domestic epidemic. What was rarely seen in Xinhua, such as local bad weather, was also reported, such as “Heavy Rainfall Peaks Tonight in Regions Between Yellow River and Huai River, and Between Yangtze River and Huai River.” However, it continued to ignore issuing warnings about the risk of floods. People’s Daily simply reprinted old news about the discovery of Sanxingdui, an archaeological site.
In contrast, the second-class party media Global Times tried much harder to hold onto its audience by reprinting the statement of the regime’s embassy in the UK and publishing a commentary, “G-7 Communiqué Creates [Anti-China] Propaganda, the Chinese Do Not Buy It.” It said, “the G-7 communiqué criticized and imposed demands on China regarding Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and Taiwan … oppose forced labor … oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo and increase tensions in the East and South China Seas.” The article claimed: “This is a summit where the Western countries most systematically criticize China … We should hold no false hope of the United States, but we must treat other countries differently from the United States … We will win in the end … Time will bring down the United States … there’s no need to push it or trip it, the United States will fall by itself.”
This commentary more or less spoke the minds of the top brass. The officials’ low-key response was a temporary restraint for fear of further stalemate with European countries; the next step is likely to be more targeted at the United States. And of course they will never admit their mistakes. However, its reliance on time for the United States to fall on its own reveals the CCP’s helplessness. There’s nothing else on the plate other than its untenable wolf warrior diplomacy.
The Global Times released a commentary entitled, “Foreign Media: NATO Chief Said ‘No New Cold War’ with China.” It deliberately distorted the fact with the intention of comforting the CCP’s top officials. Such a title actually reveals the extreme insecurity within the CCP.
The CCP has not been quiet. On June 14, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense reported that the CCP’s Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft once again violated Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, after 10 days of peace in the Taiwan Strait since June 4. Obviously, the CCP saw no reason not to coerce the region during the G-7 summit. I believe that the CCP has realized that the NATO summit is likely to continue similar diplomacy against the regime, and the pretense serves none of its deceptions.
If the G-7 leaders knew the response of the CCP’s top leaders, they would probably grin at the “paper tiger’s” gesture. There will be a U.S.–Russia summit after the NATO summit, which will not be good news for the CCP, and the CCP will have to continue enduring embarrassment.
Zhong Yuan is a researcher focused on China’s political system, the country’s democratization process, human rights situation, and Chinese citizens’ livelihood. He began writing commentaries for the Chinese-language edition of The Epoch Times in 2020.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.