13 Jun 2021

G7 summit: Spending plan to rival China adopted

6:16 am on 13 June 2021

G7 leaders seeking to rival China have adopted a plan to support lower- and middle-income countries in building better infrastructure.

(L-R) Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel,  Cyril Ramaphosa, South Korea's President Moon Jae-in, Boris Johnson, t Joe Biden and France's President Emmanuel Macront in Carbis Bay, Cornwall on June 12, 2021.

Leaders at the start of another session in Cornwall in the UK. Photo: AFP

President Joe Biden said he wanted the US-backed Build Back Better World (B3W) plan to be a higher-quality alternative to a similar Chinese programme.

China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has helped finance trains, roads, and ports in many countries.

But it has been criticised for saddling some with debt.

In a statement at their summit in the English county of Cornwall, the G7 leaders said they would offer a "values-driven, high-standard and transparent" partnership.

However, details of how the G7 plan will be financed remain unclear. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the group was not yet at a stage to release financing for its initiative.

The US has been particularly critical of China's so-called "debt diplomacy".

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) listen to US President Joe Biden at a working sesssion during the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall on June 12, 2021.

Joe Biden, right, watched by host Boris Johnson, makes a point at the summit. Photo: AFP

The G7, the world's seven wealthiest democracies, have also committed to a new plan to stop future pandemics.

The measures include cutting the time needed to develop and license vaccines and treatments for Covid-19 to under 100 days. The plan will be officially unveiled on Sunday, alongside the final summit communique.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is hosting the three-day gathering at the seaside resort of Carbis Bay.

What have Western powers done about China so far?

Earlier this year, the US, the European Union, the UK and Canada introduced co-ordinated sanctions on China.

The sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, targeted senior officials in Xinjiang who have been accused of serious human rights violations against Uyghur Muslims.

More than a million Uyghurs and other minorities are estimated to have been detained in camps in the north-western province.

The Chinese government has been accused of carrying out forced sterilisations on Uyghur women and separating children from their families.

A BBC investigation published in February contained first-hand testimony of systematic rape, sexual abuse and torture of detainees.

China responded with its own sanctions on European officials.

What is the G7's Covid plan?

The leaders will issue the Carbis Bay Declaration on Saturday (UK time). Its aim is to prevent any repeat of the human and economic devastation wreaked by Covid-19.

Globally, more than 175 million people have had the infection since the outbreak began, with over 3.7 million Covid-related deaths, according to America's Johns Hopkins university.

The G7 declaration will spell out a series of steps, including:

  • Slashing the time taken to develop and license vaccines, treatments and diagnostics for any future disease to under 100 days
  • Reinforcing global surveillance networks and genomic sequencing capacity
  • Support for reforming and strengthening the World Health Organisation (WHO)

The declaration is expected to incorporate recommendations from a report by a group of international experts drawn from across industry, government and scientific institutions.

Justin Trudeau,  Charles Michel, Joe Biden, Japan's PM  Yoshihide Suga, Boris Johnson, Italy's PM Mario Draghi, France's President Emmanuel Macron, Ursula von der Leyen and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel  at the  G7 summit in Cornwall on June 11, 2021.

The leaders of G7 nations and the EU pose before the start of the summit. Photo: AFP

UN Secretary General António Guterres and WHO director Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus will also take part in Saturday's session.

Dr Tedros stressed that "the world needs a stronger global surveillance system to detect new epidemic and pandemic risks".


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