The United States will urge its Group of Seven allies to increase pressure on China over the use of forced labour in its northwestern Xinjiang province, home to the Muslim Uyghur minority.
US President Joe Biden will attend a meeting of the G7 advanced economies in person in Britain in June, where he is expected to focus on what he sees as a strategic rivalry between democracies and autocratic states, particularly China.
Daleep Singh, deputy national security adviser to Mr Biden and deputy director of the National Economic Council, said the G7 meeting in Cornwall would focus on health security, a synchronised economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, concrete actions on climate change, and “elevating shared democratic values within the G7”.
“These are like-minded allies, and we want to take tangible and concrete actions that show our willingness to co-ordinate on non-market economies, such as China,” Mr Singh told Reuters.
“The galvanising challenge for the G7 is to show that open societies, democratic societies, still have the best chance of solving the biggest problems in our world, and that top-down autocracies are not the best path,” he said.
Mr Singh said Washington has already taken strong action against China over human rights challenges in Xinjiang, but would seek to expand the effort with G7 allies.
The G7 consists of the United States, the UK, France, Japan, Germany, Italy, and Canada.
Joint sanctions against Chinese officials accused of abuses in the province were announced last month by the United States, the European Union, Britain and Canada.
China denies all accusations of abuse and has responded with punitive measures of its own against the EU.
“We’ve made our views clear that our consumers deserve to know when the goods they’re importing are made with forced labour,” he said.
“Our values need to be infused in our trading relationships.”
Activists and UN rights experts say at least one million Muslim Uyghurs have been detained in camps in Xinjiang.
The activists and some Western politicians accuse China of using torture, forced labour and sterilisations. China says its camps provide vocational training and are needed to fight extremism.