The Group of Seven (G7) countries have introduced a major infrastructure initiative for lower-income countries in an attempt to counter China’s multitrion initiative, Belt, Road, dubbed the “New Silk Road”.
G7 leaders pledged to “collectively catalyze” hundreds of billions in infrastructure investments for low- and middle-income countries, which would offer a “value-based, high-level, transparent partnership.”
The announcement came when leaders from G7 countries – the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France and Japan – met in the coastal town of Carbis Bay in the south-west of England.
His “Build Back Better World” (B3W) project, advocated by the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden, aims to compete with the Belt and Road initiative, which has been widely criticized for engaging in small countries with unmanageable debts.
The White House said in a statement that the initiative aims to “help reduce the need for more than $ 40 trillion in infrastructure in the developing world, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“It’s not just about confronting China or confronting each other,” a senior U.S. official said. “It’s about providing a positive, positive alternative vision for the world.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose nation has huge investments in China, called it a “major initiative” that was much needed in Africa.
“We can’t sit down and say that China will, but the ambition of the G7 is to have a positive agenda for several countries in the world that are still lagging behind … I appreciate that,” he said.
According to summit reports, Al Jazeera’s diplomatic editor, James Bays, said the B3W project was something U.S. officials have been pushing for and “of course they have received support” from others. G7 leaders.
“It simply came to our notice then [B3W] will be suitable for the international environment and labor standards, unlike the Belt and Road Initiative, ”said Bays, who noted, though, while it was an ambitious idea, it had come“ too late ”.
“The Belt and Road Initiative has been around for eight years; it is very well developed, it is there in practice. Although right now it’s just a dream, “he said.
Bays added that funding for the B3W project remains a big question mark, as “US officials informed reporters that they estimated there was a $ 14 trillion infrastructure lag … by 2035 “.
Ryan Patel, a senior member of Claremont Graduate University’s Drucker School of Management, told Al Jazeera that G7 countries will take a long time to establish the B3W project, “but I think they can provide a competitive alternative” to the belt and road China. Initiative.
Patel said both China and the G7 countries hope to diversify their trading partners, especially in light of a coronavirus-related economic recession. “It simply came to our notice then [what] the other G7 countries are doing it, they are trying to be more independent, ”he said.
Although the G7 agreed to work to compete against China, there was less unity on the opposing position the group should take.
Canada, the United Kingdom and France largely supported Biden’s position, while Germany, Italy and the European Union showed more hesitation during the first session of Saturday’s summit, according to a senior administration official. of Biden, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
White House officials have said Biden wants G7 nation leaders to speak with one voice against forced labor practices targeting Uighur Muslims in China and other ethnic minorities.
According to researchers, an estimated one million people (mostly Uighurs) have been confined in so-called re-education camps in the Xinjiang region of western China.
Human rights group Amnesty International in a recent report said Xinjiang has become a “dystopian infernal landscape.”
Chinese authorities have been accused of imposing forced labor, systematic forced birth control, torture and separation of children from imprisoned parents. Beijing denies allegations of crimes.
Biden hopes the denunciation will be part of a joint statement to be released on Sunday when the summit ends, but some European allies are reluctant to split so strongly with Beijing.