G7 countries endorse infrastructure plan to rival China’s Belt and Road Initiative

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin answer questions about the 2016 U.S Election collusion during a joint press conference after their summit

Leaders of the Group of Seven nations have agreed on a new global infrastructure plan to counter China's Belt and Road initiative.

Biden's plan would offer a different option for the world, the official noted, competing with China by offering a plan with the "highest labor and environmental standards". The official who briefed reporters was not authorized to publicly discuss the private meeting and spoke on condition of anonymity.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was coy on Saturday when addressing China, saying the European Union needs "everyone in the world" in order to "work together, especially in the areas of climate protection and biodiversity". Under light drizzle, Jill Biden likened the meet-and-greet to a wedding.

While the B3W was hinted at by both United Kingdom and USA leaders in the lead up to the G-7 summit, aside from the US, the United Kingdom and others have so far refrained from explicitly terming the move as a measure to counter China or rival the Belt and Road initiative.

Biden hopes the denunciation will be part of the joint communique released at the summit's end, but some European allies have been reluctant to so forcefully split with Beijing. The plan calls for spending hundreds of millions of dollars in collaboration with the private sector.

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 the projects often create massive debt and expose nations to undue influence by Beijing.

"With the European Union, we have helped with a number of their discussions on various issues such as the economic behavior, market distortion measures and also the economic assistance of China which are not compatible with global regulations", Tomoyuki Koshida, the ministry of foreign affairs press secretary, told reporters. The U.K. government said Saturday's discussions would tackle "how we can shape the global system to deliver for our people in support of our values", including by diversifying supply chains that now heavily depend on China.

President Xi visited the country on a 2019 tour of Europe, with Italy's formal signing of Belt and Road deals the centrepiece of the trip. Weeks before Biden took office previous year, the European Commission announced it had come to terms with Beijing on the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, a deal meant to provide Europe and China greater access to each other's markets.

In a rare interview with U.S. media released Friday, Putin voiced hope that Biden would be less impetuous than Donald Trump, who infamously sided with the Russian leader against the views of his own intelligence chiefs. The Communist Party has denied the allegations.

Forced labor in China has become a hot-button issue at the G7 summit in Cornwall, England, the AP reports.

Over 100 countries and regions are members of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Of all the G-7 allies, Macron had been the most outspoken about wanting to establish more independence from Washington.

The declaration will be published Sunday alongside the G7's final communique, following a beachside barbecue on Saturday night.

Biden met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson before the G7 and has been engaged in working sessions with all six of the other world leaders that comprise the group. If not, he said the pandemic "risks being a lasting scar" that entrenched inequalities.

Brexit was casting a shadow over Johnson's meetings with European leaders, including Merkel and Macron, amid tensions over Britain's implementation of U.K. -EU divorce terms.



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