The G7 nations have rallied against China and called them out on human rights violations and trade issues, pinching at some of their most sensitive affairs. Apart from this, the united front has also demanded a high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong and a peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues along with a full investigation of the origins of the coronavirus in the country. In response, China has asserted that the allegations are baseless, and instead accused the G7 of “political manipulation”.
Out of them all, perhaps US President Joe Biden seemed most enthusiastic in what he calls a global contest between democracies and autocratic governments — an idea that has been the centerpiece of his foreign policy. The underlying motive of this however is to counter China’s growing economic power. China’s colossal infrastructure investments, including the Belt and Road initiative, have ushered in a new era of accelerated trade and growth making economies around the world highly dependent on them. This unsettling expansion of China’s might — developmentally and militarily — is of serious concern, particularly to the US. As a result, the G7 leaders have mustered up a plan called the Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative to provide “a transparent infrastructure partnership to help narrow the $40 trillion needed by developing nations by 2035” with the aim to “mobilise private-sector capital” in areas such as climate, health and gender equity. There is indeed an element of global fear, that China might soon become the world’s largest economy, which has forced the richest democracies to showcase the world they can offer an alternative to thwart China’s growing influence. In the process, developing countries might just be provided with some much-needed relief.
The move is a serious threat that may continue to irk China in the future. Right now, however, it seems that the united front may not hold for long as the cracks are pretty evident through the varying stances of the G7 leaders regarding the matter. With regard to human rights, no country has clean hands. But using such issues for their own personal agenda will not fare well for the international image of the US.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 20h, 2021.