Western officials believe that the West has so far failed to provide a viable alternative to China’s aggressive approach and non-transparent standards in various areas. At a recent meeting, the G7 leaders issued a statement criticizing the Chinese government for its internal repression, promising to investigate into the origins of the Coronavirus, and criticizing Russia for its use of nerve agent and cyber weapons. Although various issues were discussed at the G7 summit, China was at the center of the debate. It was clear from the outset that by inviting Australia, South Korea and India as guests of the Group of Seven, the issue of China would be high on the G7 agenda.
New US Plan
The United States wanted the G7 summit to challenge China’s growing influence around the world. In fact, Biden’s main goal was to encourage European countries to take Beijing’s threat to the West seriously, given that China’s investment in trade and infrastructure in Europe has increased dramatically. Launched in 2013, the Belt-Road Initiative has implemented various investment and development programs in various countries, and more than 100 countries have signed agreements with China to cooperate in various infrastructural areas. Western countries see the plan as an attempt by China to expand its influence and consolidate its hegemony in the coming years.
U.S. officials say that while the Belt-Road Initiative has injected billions of dollars into developing countries, Chinese investment has come at a high cost. For example, the coercion of the Uyghur minority labor force in Xinjiang is very obvious and economically unacceptable, as it hinders fair competition. Washington believes that global supply chains should be free of such forced labor. The US idea is to set up a “Build a Better World” fund to counter the Bet-Road Initiative. Of course, US officials say the move is not aimed at confronting China, but at trying to find a viable alternative to the world. The United States seeks to provide a transparent infrastructure partnership to reduce the 40 trillion dollars gap needed by developing countries by 2035 by implementing the Build a Better World plan. The purpose of this program is to mobilize private sector investment in areas such as climate change, health and safety, digital technology, gender equality and equality.
Although the Group of Seven has welcomed the idea, no country seems interested in injecting money. Of course, the details of the plan and how to finance it are not specified in detail. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, for example, said the group was not yet in a position to provide the resources needed for the project. Overall, the new US plan seeks to compete with China’s Belt-Road Initiative, helping developing countries invest in ports, roads and strengthen digital infrastructure. Europe is now more ready to accept Biden’s policies in China and is in a different position than at the beginning of the year. The G7 leaders are trying to send a message to the world that rich countries are offering an alternative to the Belt-Road Initiative.
G7 Final Statement, China’s Reaction
China’s influence in various fields is a very important issue for the Group of Seven. In recent years, China’s military presence around Taiwan has increased, and international attention has turned to the situation of Muslims in Xinjiang. The leaders of the Group of Seven in their closing statement, in an unprecedented tone, directly referred to some controversial issues that could anger Beijing. First, forced labor is an example of the hardening of the Group of Seven positions. Although the leaders of the G7 did not directly mention China, it is clear which country they are referring to. For example, the Group of Seven final statement says: We are concerned about the use of all forms of forced labor in the global supply chain, including forced labor of vulnerable minorities and groups in sectors such as agriculture and clothing. And our trade ministers will come up with a comprehensive plan in the next four months in this regard. Second, the statement called on China to respect the freedom and rights of the people of Hong Kong, as Beijing passed a new security law last year that would make it easier to punish protesters; and third, the G7 leaders said Hong Kong needed more autonomy, but stressed the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
The Chinese embassy in Britain issued a statement calling the G7 leaders’ positions baseless allegations and calling the references to Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Taiwan a distortion of the facts. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman also called on the G7 leaders to refrain from slandering China, interfering in its internal affairs and harming Beijing’s interests. Although Europe sometimes takes a hard line on China, China sees the G7 statement as the result of US efforts to forge an alliance with the EU and Britain against itself. Beijing says the days when a small group of countries dictated global decisions have long gone. However, while China has ignored the G7 agreement to intensify its position on human rights, economic coercion, and the aggressive approach of the Beijing region, it has concerns about the formation of a united front against itself
At the G7 summit, the US President Biden proposed a global infrastructure plan aimed at countering the Belt-Road Initiative. Of course, it is not yet clear how much the West can contribute to this global infrastructure project and how long it will take. However, Western powers are determined to take action to counter China’s growing power. Recent G7 moves indicate that the group is embarking on a new mission, which is to form a coalition of powerful countries to counter the rising of China. The G7 leaders said in a final statement that they would take a collective approach to China’s unfair trade policies and called on China to respect human rights in Xinjiang and Hong Kong and to abandon Taiwan. The main critics of the Group of Seven consider the absence of China in this group as a factor in reducing the influence of the group. Although the United States is particularly critical of China’s debt diplomacy, the important issue is how to deal with the Chinese dilemma, which requires a kind of complex coexistence; because the United States has little experience in that area.