Published: Sun, June 13, 2021
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G-7 to launch infrastructure plan to counter China's Belt and Road

G-7 to launch infrastructure plan to counter China's Belt and Road

G7 leaders launched a plan to help build infrastructure in poorer nations, offering a "values-driven, high-standard and transparent" partnership in opposition to China's Belt and Road Initiative.

Comprising Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, the summit is meeting for the first time after being cancelled previous year due to the pandemic.

President Biden's administration secured agreement for a G7 equivalent of the Chinese scheme that will dovetail with moves to tackle climate change. Through the scheme the G7 and other "like-minded partners" will coordinate in mobilising private-sector capital in four areas of focus - climate, health & health security, digital technology, and gender equity & equality - with investments from their respective development finance institutions.

On the second day of the three-day summit in Cornwall, southwestern England, the G-7 leaders also discussed Beijing's alleged abuses of the Uyghur Muslim minority in the Xinjiang region, western China, with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga expressing "deep concerns" about human rights in China.

"As we come together on this partnership, our G7 partners have agreed that our real objective here is to demonstrate that democracies and open societies can come together and deliver a positive choice to meet some of the biggest challenges of our time, not just for our people, but for people all over the world", said the USA administration official, who also spoke on background.

Among the G7 leaders meeting at Carbis Bay, along England's southwest coast, the challenge that was front and centre was the struggle of how to compete with Beijing's increasingly aggressive drive to sign up developing countries for economic infrastructure projects. China also is expected to be on the agenda at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting, USA officials said.

After an opening session on "building back better" from Covid-19, the leaders spent the evening at a reception hosted by Queen Elizabeth II at Cornwall's Eden Project, a renowned attraction showcasing the world's ecological riches.

Not every European power has viewed China in as harsh a light as Biden, who has painted the rivalry with China as the defining competition for the 21st century.

It came as Washington steps up its rhetoric against China over human rights abuses and the regime's lack of transparency over the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic, which U.S. intelligence increasingly suspects was caused by an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.

"This is not just about confronting or taking on China", the official said.

While calling out China in the G7 communique would not create any immediate penalties for Beijing, one senior administration official said the action would send a message that the leaders were serious about defending human rights and working together to eradicate the use of forced labor. Chinese authorities have been accused of imposing forced labor, systematic forced birth control, torture and separating children from incarcerated parents. The Communist Party has denied the allegations.

The leaders planned to attend a barbecue Saturday night, complete with toasted marshmallows, hot buttered rum and a performance by a sea shanty troupe. After their sole summit in July 2018 in Helsinki, Trump set off shockwaves when he refused to side with US intelligence agencies over Putin's denials of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The solo press conference will be in contrast to the side-by-side event then-U.S. President Donald Trump held with Putin after they met in 2018 in Finland.

Trudeau, left, and Biden meet virtually in February.

"That's a different kind of person, and it is my great hope that yes, there are some advantages, some disadvantages, but there will not be any impulse-based movements, on behalf of the sitting USA president", he added.

In a rare interview with United States media released Friday, Putin voiced hope that Biden would be less impetuous than Donald Trump, who infamously sided with the Russian leader against the views of his own intelligence chiefs.

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