Beijing tells G7 to stick to economics

G7 leaders walk out to the family photo event during the first day of the group summit meetings in Ise Shima, Japan© Jim Watson
China’s foreign minister has warned G7 leaders not to interfere in the territorial disputes in the South China Sea and focus on financial matters instead, ahead of the group’s meeting on Thursday.

READ MORE: Brexit fears force Cameron to seek help from his friends at G7 summit

“We hope the G7 will focus on urgent economic and financial matters,” said Wang Yi, stressing that China didn’t welcome anything that escalate tension in the region.

The comment came as European Council President Donald Tusk said the group should take a “clear and tough stance” on China’s contested maritime claim.

“The test of our credibility at the G7 is our ability to defend the common values that we share,” Mr. Tusk told AFP on the sidelines of the summit in Japan.

Last month, foreign ministers from the group criticized China’s island building activities in the South China Sea. The issue might be raised during the summit.

“We are concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas, and emphasize the fundamental importance of peaceful management and settlement of disputes,” the G7 ministers said in a joint statement in April.

Chinese officials are worried that Japan and the US may use the summit to further isolate Beijing over its position in the region.

The Chinese media have strongly reacted to the comments made by G7 members.

The G7, which does not include Beijing, “should mind its own business rather than pointing fingers at others”, reports China's official Xinhua news agency.

The agency accuses Japan of attempting to overuse its G7 summit host status and win over more “allies and sympathizers” to isolate China.

“Japan's hidden agenda: to meddle in the South China Sea issue,” reports Xinhua.

READ MORE: Environmentalists slam G7 for investing billions in coal

Beijing has upset several Southeast Asian neighbors by claiming most of the disputed sea territory and building artificial islands capable of basing military planes.