G7: Solidarity against China but no strong commitment

G7: Solidarity against China but no strong commitment

The G7, which brought together Germany, Canada, the United States, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Japan on June 4, is the first since 2019 and therefore since Joe Biden was elected. Heads of state wanted to show their unity, sometimes a little exaggerated.

They talked a lot about it throughout the summit in Cornwall, UK this year. In front of the cameras, Emmanuel Macron and Joe Biden appeared to be very close.

The question of Northern Ireland and the treatment of the United Kingdom in the aftermath of Brexit affected the beautiful picture to some extent. Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson were briefly opposed on the issue but in the end wanted to emphasize their contract points.

Opposition to China

This apparent desire for unity is not just a question of communication. This comes from the need to jointly confront Chinese power. Joe Biden clearly moved to Cornwall to make it the focus of the debate. He hoped that G7 members would recognize the dangers posed by China and approach the economic, political and health debates primarily from this angle.

European and Canadian leaders are more moderate, indicating their intention to maintain important economic ties with the Middle Kingdom, which can be seen as Biden’s failure. It is well known that China’s activities in the international arena (Hong Kong, Taiwan, Uyghur, etc.) represent a number of serious dangers, but this is not reflected in the final report, which is mentioned only three times. The American president would have liked that this figure was so high.

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Boris Johnson spoke out against Chinese influence, especially the “New Silk Roads” (a trade compromise plan between China and the 100 countries, officially launched in 2013 to officially strengthen its position in the world). “Green Silk Roads” (the term was later changed to Build Back Better World), which means more respect for the environment and related countries.

This is an obscure counter model, still not very detailed and far from gaining the support of European countries. For example, funding “carbon” projects such as wind turbines or railways without further details raises the vague question of whether the public will waste some money …

However, if another axis of the plan is successfully implemented it can prove to be important and beneficial: establishing ways to finance third countries. The Chinese aspirations on these famous new Silk Roads are worrisome in many respects, but the lack of transparency on loan terms, especially for third countries, especially Africa.

If it is difficult to repay, no one can guarantee that the indebted countries will not be subject to Chinese geopolitical requirements. This is already happening in some countries in Africa or Asia. The initiative of the G7 leaders in promoting transparent lending, especially from the private sector, is commendable. Unfortunately, even there, they remained in the greatest ambiguity, with no big plans ready.

Yet the relative unity of the G7 seemed to affect the Chinese, and their press condemned the exception to the final statement, which upset some heads of state. Conclusion: Member states recognize danger, stop there, no commitment. The theory is that the European Union and the United States have always shared the same values.

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This agreement is often more difficult to translate into practice. Can the two blocs quickly and quickly grasp the historic challenge that China represents to come closer?

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