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THIS year’s G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, was a far cry from its origins in the informal gathering of four finance ministers convened by the US 50 years ago.
Last weekend’s three-day high-profile event produced a detailed communique and four supplementary statements from the leaders of the US, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada.
Together, these states account for more than half (at least 53 per cent) of the world’s wealth, between one-third and a half of global production, but no more than one-tenth of the world’s population.
China is excluded from this club because it does not subscribe to the sovereignty of capitalist market forces. Following the destruction of its socialist system, Russia was a member of what became the G8 from 1997 until — in the wake of the overthrow of Ukraine’s elected president Viktor Yanukovich — it reincorporated Crimea in 2014.
The EU has played a full part in G7 proceedings since 1977, but is classed as a “non-enumerated member.” Whoever thought up that classification deserves a medal.
Why was Hiroshima chosen to host this year’s G7 summit?
The city was destroyed by a US atomic bomb — “Little Boy” — on August 6 1945, killing 140,000 people, half the civilian population. Ever since, it has symbolised the struggle for peace and nuclear disarmament against the barbarism of weapons of mass destruction.
What perfect cover for a summit designed to popularise and escalate the war in Ukraine and to carry forward the new cold war against China.
While in Hiroshima, US President Joe Biden promised an extra £243 million in military aid to special guest President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, on top of the £31 billionn pledged so far, while Britain has pledged £5bn including long-range cruise missiles and the EU around £5.2bn via its so-called “European Peace Facility.”
All but one of the seven leading capitalist states represented in Hiroshima either possess nuclear weapons (the US, Britain and France) or play host to them (Germany, Italy and Japan) and refuse to sign the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons that aims for universal nuclear disarmament.
Six of these states including Canada are members of Nato, an expansionist military alliance led by the US which has a “first use” policy when it comes to the atomic mass murder of civilians.
Nato member states, Japan and Australia are all rapidly increasing their military expenditure, most of them towards a target of 2.5 per cent of GDP which the US already exceeds.
Yet the G7 leaders had the cynical effrontery to issue not one but two statements proclaiming their commitment to peace, disarmament and the worldwide abolition of nuclear weapons.
In Western-speak, peace means war and disarmament means rearmament.
China is forbidden to use force or coercion to change the status quo in Taiwan, the East and South China Seas or the wider Indo-Pacific region.
North Korea alone — not Pakistan nor Israel — is instructed to abandon its nuclear weapons programme. It is chided for prioritising its military programmes over the welfare of its people.
Meanwhile, the US-funded military build-up continues in Taiwan, although the G7 countries still claim to respect the “One China” policy which recognises that Taiwan is as Chinese as the Isle of Wight is English.
The US Seventh Fleet and its nuclear-armed submarines with around 900 nuclear warheads patrol the Pacific and Indian oceans and adjoining seas off the coasts of China and North Korea. Headquartered at Yokosuka in Japan, the Seventh Fleet’s bases include Pearl Harbour in Hawaii and British-ruled Diego Garcia.
Rather than do anything to restrain their own booming military capacity, the G7 members — especially in their “Hiroshima Vision on Nuclear Disarmament” — emphasise the importance of the Non-Proliferation Treaty to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons (ie beyond the G7). They avoid any mention of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).
When the UN voted to adopt the TPNW in 2017, all nuclear-armed, G7 and Nato states declined to vote (except the Netherlands which opposed); the year before, only North Korea had voted to begin the negotiations that produced the treaty.
States that have since ratified or signed the TPNW include Cuba, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Guyana, Bolivia, Palestine, South Africa, Brazil and — in the EU — only Ireland, Austria and Malta.
Instead of widening this support, the G7 leaders urge compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The US record of unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missiles Treaty (2002), the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (2019) and the Open Skies Treaty (2020) is passed over in silence.
Given all this, the decision to hold the G7 summit — and even a sham peace ceremony — in Hiroshima was a disgusting display of breathtaking hypocrisy, double-speak and dishonesty; a gross insult to the atrocity’s survivors and the bereaved.
Surprise, surprise, their huge protest against the summit on Sunday was largely ignored by the mass media in Britain, with the honourable exception of the Morning Star.
The only bad guys are outside Nato, the EU and their allies and client states. And the baddest guy of all, next to Putin’s Russia, is China.
Of course, the world is assured in the summit’s final communique that the G7 states wish to build stable, constructive relations based on co-operation with China, the world’s second-biggest economy. There is no intention to “thwart China’s economic progress and development.”
Such assurances fly in the face of weekly announcements by the US, British and other Western governments blocking or expelling Chinese companies from whole sectors of their economies.
G7 pledges to mobilise £486bn financial assistance for developing countries through the public-private Partnership for Global Infrastructure Investment and Western development banks is clearly intended to combat China’s enormous Belt and Road initiative with its multination Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
China is also admonished over its human rights policies in Tibet, Xinjiang and Hong Kong.
There are no references to human rights abuses in occupied Palestine or Saudi Arabia and other Middle East dictatorships in the same lengthy communique. Turkey’s illegal occupation of northern Cyprus is not mentioned.
There is no condemnation of the brutal eight-year bombardment of Yemen by Saudi Arabia and nine other states — most of them vicious dictatorships — armed by the US, Britain and Germany.
Instead, the G7 leaders peddle the same time-worn, pious and barren declarations in favour of peaceful resolutions to conflicts they have done so much to provoke and perpetuate.
Like so much else at the G7 summit, this demonstrates how the main political, economic and military target of the world’s leading capitalist powers is China.
The left, working-class and peace movements ignore these dire danger signals at their — and the planet’s — peril. The time for illusions in Nato and the EU as forces for international co-operation and peace is now past.
The Doomsday Clock operated by the admirable Bulletin of Atomic Scientists now stands at 90 seconds to midnight — the closest to global catastrophe it has ever been.
Can the Green Party in England and Wales and the SNP still tell the time? Have all the Labour left MPs lost their watches, leaving the time-telling to Jeremy Corbyn?
How much longer will trade unions fail to make the connection between low wages, poor services, precarious employment and the massive expansion of Britain’s nuclear weapons arsenal?
Workers and their families in Britain and across Europe struggling to meet rocketing food, energy and housing costs should challenge the priority their rulers give to militarism and war.
We need to build the anti-war movement — CND, Stop the War, the Campaign Against Arms Trade, the World Peace Council and its Peace Assembly in Britain — as never before, and support the invaluable work of the Friends of Socialist China.
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