Biden rallies Western allies in global ‘contest’ against autocrats


US President Joe Biden challenged the leaders of the G7 countries to use their financial might to counter China’s growing global influence, saying Western democracies were “in competition with autocrats.”

Biden said he was ‘happy’ with the outcome of the G7 summit in Cornwall on Sunday, but urged EU leaders to be more ambitious in their support an alternative to the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative by offering a wide range of infrastructure finance to poor countries.

European leaders at the summit, a gathering of the world’s largest advanced economies, were more cautious of Beijing’s hostility. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, host of the summit, declined to specifically mention China by name during his closing press conference.

Several leaders, including Mario Draghi, the Italian prime minister, have said the West needs to work with China in key areas, particularly climate change.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the G7 was “not hostile to China”, while a British official said: “The aim of the summit is to show what we are, not who we are against”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has supported the creation of a task force to explore ways for G7 governments to work with the private sector on infrastructure projects in the developing world.

Speaking after the meeting, held at Carbis Bay on the English Cornish coast, Biden praised the summit press release for his references to China, saying he was “happy” with its contents and that there was “a lot of action” on measures to counter Beijing.

The US president noted that the last time the G7 met, there was no reference to China. “The G7 has explicitly agreed to denounce human rights violations in Xinjiang and Hong Kong,” he said, adding that there was also a strategy to pressure China for its use of forced labor.

“We are competing, not with China per se, but with autocrats and autocratic governments around the world over whether democracies can compete with them in a rapidly evolving 21st century,” Biden said.

On the last day of the three-day meeting, G7 leaders launched a new initiative called ‘Build Better for the World’, or B3W, but failed to agree on details of its funding. or what that would imply.

Biden said a committee would develop the plan, with a focus on climate change, health, digital technology and gender equity, to challenge the billions of dollars spent by China on infrastructure in the poorest countries.

“China has this ‘Belt and Road’ initiative, and we believe there is a much more equitable way to meet the needs of developing countries around the world,” he said. The new fund “would represent the values ​​that our democracies represent, and not lack of autocratic values”.

Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden with Queen Elizabeth II listening to the national anthems at Windsor Castle © AP

However, climate change experts said the G7 meeting made no collective financial commitments to help developing countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions or cope with climate disasters.

It also watered down a pledge G7 environment ministers last month on the schedule for phasing out coal-fired power plants. The objective of a “massively carbon-free electricity system in the 2030s” was abandoned in the last press release.

G7 leaders have also been criticized for the ambition to their Covid vaccine sharing plan with the poorest countries. The statement said the group would share “at least 870 million doses directly over the next year.”

Oxfam replied that “a billion doses would have been a drop in the bucket, but they didn’t even make it”. The statement said the G7 has provided more than 2 billion doses of vaccines to developing countries since the start of the pandemic.

Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron at a plenary session of the G7 summit on Sunday © Getty Images

Biden described the rally as a break from the Trump era, saying “America is back to the table. America is back at the head of the world.

A European diplomat noted: “Everyone is delighted that the United States is back, but the American leadership means that they will want something from us. “

Johnson said the summit was marked by “fantastic harmony”, although the issue of Brexit and new trade rules for Northern Ireland discussions with European leaders escalate.

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British Prime Minister insisted he would do ‘whatever it takes’ to ensure post-Brexit deal does not impose unreasonable burdens on trade between Britain and Ireland North.

China has criticized the United States and other G7 members, arguing that “true multilateralism” is based on the UN. “The days when global decisions were dictated by a small group of countries are long gone,” said a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in London.

Additional reporting by Erika Solomon in Berlin



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