The G-7 seeks to counter China’s influence in developing countries | International
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The war in Ukraine is the epicenter of a global earthquake and is the absolute protagonist of the agenda of the G-7 that is being held in Germany. But the leaders of the great democratic industrial powers gathered at their annual meeting do not lose sight of the challenge of the true strategic competitor of the 21st century: China. With this perspective, the group has expressed this Sunday its willingness to promote large investment plans in developing countries in a coordinated manner that seek to counteract the projection of influence that Beijing has been accumulating for years with this type of scheme. The president of the United States, Joe Biden, has announced in this framework a program to mobilize some 190,000 million dollars of public and private capital until 2027.
The US push gives new impetus to the investment counteroffensive against Beijing. The EU already launched its plan in this sector at the end of last year, with the intention of mobilizing 300,000 million euros, also with 2027 as the horizon to complete the disbursement. As a whole, the group hopes to inject around 570,000 million euros in projects especially focused on the areas of health, energy, digitization and gender equality.
The basic idea, underlined by the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, host of the summit, is to offer potential recipients of funds more attractive investment schemes than the Chinese precisely because of their adherence to democratic values, with all the derivatives that these have in terms of transparency, responsibility and other concepts. The different leaders have succeeded each other in speeches that emphasized the features of the initiative, called Partnership for Investment and Global Infrastructure, as a joint action of democratic countries. It is another fringe of competition in a world that is experiencing growing polarization and risks rushing into confrontation.
Biden announced the launch of some specific projects, such as a vaccine production center in Senegal, a large solar power plant in Angola or the laying of submarine connection cables between Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Western Europe. The president stressed that, overall, this should not be seen as “a humanitarian aid plan but as an opportunity to share a positive vision of the future.” “When democracies show what they are capable of, they can beat any competition,” he stressed, alluding to geopolitical competition with China and the profitability of deepening ties with developing countries.
The logic of the project is forceful in the abstract, but the obstacles it faces are great. To begin with, China has gained a wide advantage by making investments in many developing countries for years. Then, if democratic features may seem like a virtue, it is to be suspected that in many cases they are almost a burden, with the prospect of so many authoritarian regimes that prefer Chinese loans that have no requirements or criticisms of any kind attached to relations with countries with attention to human rights.
Although in geopolitical terms the plan is eminently intended as a response to China, it nevertheless has derivatives of immediate interest in the context of the conflict in Ukraine. As the President of the Italian Government, Mario Draghi, pointed out, part of the investments can be directed to facilitating improvements in the gas market infrastructures in the short term. Draghi exhorted in this direction, but encouraged to contemplate conversion capacity for these investments so that in the future they can transport hydrogen, gas cleansed which is called to be a key piece in the energy transition.
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