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BEIJING: China accused Group of Seven countries on Wednesday of irresponsibly sowing division after the forum condemned Beijing’s trade practices in an end-of-summit statement.

G7 leaders had slammed China’s “non-transparent and market-distorting” international trade tactics on Tuesday, in a statement that also vowed to reduce “strategic dependencies” on the Asian giant.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Wednesday hit back at the criticism, saying the statement showed the allies were “keen to create divisions and confrontations without any sense of responsibility or morality”.

The G7 should “advance globalisation” rather than encourage division “at a critical time for the international community fighting the pandemic and striving for economic recovery,” Zhao said at a regular press conference.

The G7 statement, in which leaders pledged to “foster diversification and resilience to economic coercion, and to reduce strategic dependencies,” came hours before the leaders joined a larger group of their counterparts at a NATO summit in Madrid.

There, the 30-member alliance was also poised to toughen its stance against Beijing.

The United States has long cast a wary eye at China over its trade practices, which Washington believes are designed to accord an unfair advantage to Chinese companies over foreign firms.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Beijing’s refusal to distance itself from Vladimir Putin has prompted other countries, including export giant Germany, to also reconsider their economic reliance on the Asian giant.

Beijing’s increasingly strident claims over much of the South China Sea has also sparked alarm over its military ambitions.

Western allies acknowledge that the world’s biggest challenges, including climate change, cannot be solved without Beijing’s cooperation, but have become more cautious about China’s actions and aims.

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