Tuesday, 28 September, 2021

G7 to develop rival scheme to China's belt and road initiative

THE VILLA La Grange at the Eaux-Vives in Geneva.—AP THE VILLA La Grange at the Eaux-Vives in Geneva.—AP
Gustavo Carr | 13 June, 2021, 00:53

Biden has been clear in two phone calls with Putin that he will not "simply elide or gloss over the differences that we have; he's going to take them on with candor and directly, and that where Russian Federation crosses lines that we consider to be unacceptable, we will impose costs on Russian Federation for doing that", the official said.

At his first G7 summit, held cliffside in Sicily, his fellow leaders all nudged Trump to remain in the Paris climate accord. The official who briefed reporters was not authorized to publicly discuss the private meeting and spoke on condition of anonymity. Relations between the allies had become strained during the four years of Donald Trump's presidency and his "America first" foreign policy. But at the same time, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, specifically, have reportedly suggested they're anxious about Biden's camp taking things to the point that they could lose any cooperation from China. Merkel is scheduled to meet with Biden at the White House next month.

The United States is pushing the other G7 leaders for "concrete action on forced labour" in China, and to include criticism of Beijing in their final communique from a three-day summit in southwest England, the USA official said. The initiative is described as "a values-driven, high-standard, and transparent infrastructure partnership led by major democracies". It's an Initiative to free up hundreds of billions of dollars from both government and private industry for developing countries that might be inclined to take funding from China.

China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) scheme, which Xi launched in 2013, involves development and investment initiatives that would stretch from Asia to Europe and beyond. Critics say China's projects often create massive debt and expose nations to undue influence by Beijing. In late 2019, China said all people in the camps had "graduated".

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.

The EU, for instance, previously struck an investment deal with China, although it later put the agreement on hold amid rising tensions with Beijing.

In a rare interview with United States media, Putin voiced hope Friday that Biden will be less impulsive than Trump, who faced criticism for being too soft on the Russian leader. The Communist Party has denied the allegations.

"We're pushing on being specific on areas like Xinjiang where forced labour is taking place and where we have to express our values as a G7", the official said of the final communique to be issued at the end of the summit on Sunday. The officials said Biden wanted G-7 leaders to speak out in a single voice against forced labour practices targeting Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities.

At least 11 killed, including children, by landmine in Afghanistan
In May, the Afghan Taliban warned its neighbors against allowing the United States military to operate bases on their soil. Ghazni is strategically located on the main road from Kabul to Kandahar, the former bastion of the Taliban in the south.

An estimated 1 million people or more - a lot of them Uyghurs - have been confined in reeducation camps in China's western Xinjiang region in recent years, according to researchers.

The officials didn't give details of the G-7 initiative. A crowd of surfers, kayakers and swimmers gathered on a beach in Falmouth for a mass "paddle out protest" organized by Surfers Against Sewage, a group campaigning for more ocean protections.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was front and centre, with US President Joe Biden - who is on his first trip overseas as commander-in-chief - to his right. If not, he said the pandemic "risks being a lasting scar" that entrenched inequalities.

The group of leading economies - Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States - will be largely consumed by the global health crisis at their gathering at a beachside venue in Cornwall, southwest England.

Biden ends the trip Wednesday by meeting in Geneva with Russia's Vladimir Putin.

The White House had already announced that there would be no joint press conference between the two leaders, but on Saturday, they announced that President Biden will, in fact, conduct a full press conference following the summit.

Talking about the summit alone will also spare Biden, 78, from open jousting with Putin, 68, before the world's media after what is certain to be a combative encounter.

Biden has said that the United States is not seeking a conflict with Russian Federation, but that Washington will respond in a robust way if Moscow engages in harmful activities.