The Western allies have come out in open on the highest level by declaring their intention to counter China’s flagship project, Belt and Road Initiative G-7 counters Chinese BRI, underpinning Chinese use of its soft power. It was evident since some time that Chinese BRI was deeply resented in the West because they believe that Chinese economic power is essentially due to the state-sponsored support rendered to the economic development and also that it is primarily based upon the huge export earnings China has garnered while doing trade with highly developed Western economies. The resentment against the manipulative economic policies undertaken by the Chinese came out in the open in shape of trade war against China initiated during the Trump presidency.
In the recent meeting of representative G7 countries in the German location of Bavaria one of the first announcements coming out of the gathering was an announcement unveiling $600 billion infrastructure initiative to help developing countries tackle climate change. The initiative is seen as the West’s response to China’s massive BRI. In this context, Beijing has been accused of trapping low-income countries into unaffordable debts to be part of its trillion-dollar BRI push, which is seen as expanding China’s trade power with Africa, Asia and Europe.
US President Joe Biden had suggested founding an initiative from democratic” countries to rival China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road infrastructure initiative as tensions spike between the Asian power and Western nations and in this connection plans were unveiled plans aimed at countering Chinese economic march. Increasingly worried about China, G7 leaders first floated plans for the project last year and have formally launched it now under a fresh title, “Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment” while dropping the moniker “Build Back Better World” first coined by Biden during his presidential campaign. The funds would be raised through grants, leveraging private-sector investments and would also obtain hundreds of billions of additional dollars through multilateral development banks, development finance institutions, sovereign wealth funds and others.
Beijing’s influence has grown in some nations in recent years through loans and projects under the initiative, raising concerns among regional powers and Western nations as China has helped scores of countries build or develop roads, railways, dams and ports. China’s BRI scheme, which Chinese President Xi Jinping launched in 2013, involves development and investment initiatives in over 100 countries, with a range of projects including railways, ports and highways. The American perspective is that Xi’s plan to create a modern version of the ancient Silk Road trade route has provided little tangible benefit for many developing countries, with top jobs going to Chinese workers while increasing rates of forced and child labour.
The initiative of the western allies is underscored by the fact that G7 countries are united over common values that include democracy, rule of law and a free market. Combined together the G7 countries account for around 45% of global gross domestic product giving them considerable economic influence and it is widely acknowledged that the G7 has much sway on global issues.
The western allies have held back no punches in criticising the Chinese policies regarding the treatment meted out to the minority Uyghur community. The European Union, Britain, Canada and the United States sanctioned several members of Xinjiang’s political and economic hierarchy in coordinated action over the rights allegations, prompting retaliation from Beijing in the form of sanctions on individuals from the EU and UK. Beijing, which insists the situation in Xinjiang is an internal affair announced sanctions against nine British individuals and four entities, saying they had maliciously spread lies and disinformation over the treatment of the Uyghurs. At least one million Uyghurs and people from other mostly Muslim groups have been held in camps in Xinjiang and in this context human rights groups accuse Chinese authorities of forcibly sterilising women and imposing forced labour.
Additionally, G7 also expressed concerns about the crisis confronted by the world on account of falling growth rates in countries, rising inflation, raw materials shortages, disrupted supply changes that have strongly pushed back the global economy. The world is effectively facing three crises pertaining to fiscal, energy and food and they are now combined together to make life difficult for people. This financial predicament is growing more dire as the world plunges even deeper into a hunger crisis, worsened by Russia’s war in Ukraine. Nearly 193 million people experienced acute food insecurity in 2021 and 40 million more than the year before. It was also commented upon that the funds promised to poorer nations by richer countries and international organisations often received a lot of public hype but much of the money failed to get where it was needed most. TW