G7 rivals China with infrastructure plan

Published June 13, 2021
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II (C) poses for a photograph with, from left, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, France’s President Emmanuel Macron, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson , Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi, President of the European Council Charles Michel and US President Joe Biden, during an evening reception at The Eden Project in south-west England on Friday.—AFP
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II (C) poses for a photograph with, from left, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, France’s President Emmanuel Macron, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson , Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi, President of the European Council Charles Michel and US President Joe Biden, during an evening reception at The Eden Project in south-west England on Friday.—AFP

CARBIS BAY: The Group of Seven richest democracies on Saturday sought to counter China’s growing influence by offering developing nations an infrastructure plan that would rival President Xi Jinping’s multi-trillion-dollar Belt and Road initiative.

The G7, whose leaders are meeting in southwestern England, has been searching for a coherent response to the growing assertiveness of Xi after China’s surging economic and military rise over the past 40 years.

US President Joe Biden and other G7 leaders hope their plan, known as the Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative, will provide a transparent infrastructure partnership to help narrow the $40 trillion needed by developing nations by 2035, the White House said.

“This is not just about confronting or taking on China,” a senior official in Biden’s administration said. “But until now we haven’t offered a positive alternative that reflects our values, our standards and our way of doing business.” The G7 and its allies will use the initiative to mobilise private-sector capital in areas such as climate, health and health security, digital technology, and gender equity and equality, the White House added.

It was not immediately clear how exactly the plan would work or how much capital it would ultimately allocate.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) scheme, which Xi launched in 2013, involves development and investment initiatives that would stretch from Asia to Europe and beyond.

More than 100 countries have signed agreements with China to cooperate in BRI projects like railways, ports, highways and other infrastructure.

Critics say Xi’s plan to create a modern version of the ancient Silk Road trade route to link China with Asia, Europe and beyond is a vehicle for the expansion of Communist China. Beijing says such doubts betray the “imperial hangover” of many Western powers that humiliated China for centuries.

China’s riseLeaders of the G7 — the United States, Canada, Britain, Germany, Italy, France and Japan — want to use their gathering in the seaside resort of Carbis Bay to show the world that the richest democracies can offer an alternative to China’s growing clout.

The re-emergence of China as a leading global power is considered to be one of the most significant geopolitical events of recent times, alongside the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union that ended the Cold War.

China in 1979 had an economy that was smaller than Italy’s, but after opening to foreign investment and introducing market reforms, it has become the world’s second-largest economy and is a global leader in a range of new technologies.

Published in Dawn, June 13th, 2021

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