G7 Infrastructure Plan to Counter BRI By Waseem Shabbir

G7 Infrastructure Plan to counter BRI By Waseem Shabbir

The 48th summit of G-7 was held in Germany’s Schloss Elmau last month. As usual, this summit was again based on crafting anti-China policies, agreements and nexuses. However, the gigantic development that came to the fore this time was the proclamation of a mega project named “Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment” (PGII) unanimously by G7 countries, including the US, UK, Canada, and France, Germany, Italy, Japan and European Union. Actually, the launching of this partnership is the continuation of the same G7’s last year’s scheme unveiled in Cornwall’s summit labelled as “Build Back Better World” (B3W) but in new packing. The prime objective of both of these initiatives is starkly to give an alternative to China’s globally expanding project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

All G7 countries have pledged to collectively make a huge investment of USD 600 billion for the next five years up to 2027. The US itself will contribute USD 200 billion alone. As a countermeasure against China’s BRI, this humongous amount will be invested in developing countries solely to improve their infrastructure. The projects to be funded under the “Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment” initiative fall into four broad categories — clean energy, health systems, information and communications technology and gender equality. The major investment in all the above-mentioned projects has been announced below.

First, an investment of $2 billion for a solar project in Angola has been committed. It would be covering solar mini-grids, home power kits and solar for powering telecommunications. Second, $600 million was pledged for a US company, which would build a submarine telecommunications cable that will connect Singapore to France through Egypt and the Horn of Africa, delivering high-speed internet. Third, for World Bank’s Childcare Incentive, funds of $50 million have been announced by the US. It would also be supported by Canada, Australia and numerous other foundations. Fourth, the Institute Pasteur de Dakar in Senegal would get funds worth $3.3 million for the development of an industrial-scale and multi-vaccine manufacturing facility in the country. In partnership with G7 nations and European Union, this would produce Covid-19 vaccines and others.

The new world order is rapidly evolving from unipolar to bipolar, which is blatantly bullying the US unilateralism.

The US National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan who is an important member of this newly launched project uttered at a strategic event hosted by the Centre for New American Security last week that US initiated partnership will lay a focus on global infrastructure, physical health, and digital structures which would provide an alternative to what China’s BRI is offering. It will be one of the hallmarks of the Biden administration’s foreign policy over his remaining tenure. Corresponding to Jack Sullivan’s statement, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin also said at a regular press briefing in Beijing that China welcomed G7 efforts to promote global infrastructure development via (PGII) provided that Biden’s initiative was based on a “zero-sum game approach.” However, in his announcement, Biden made his motive clear, “It’s an investment that will deliver returns for everyone, including the American people and the people of all our nations.”

Now, the question that emanates in my mind is that “Would G7’s PGII be able to actually counter China’s trillion dollars BRI project?”

Let’s make a prudent comparison between PGII and BRI to ascertain which stands out as a broader project out of the two — PGII or BRI. The BRI is a transcontinental long-term policy and investment program spanning over 71 countries primarily from Asia, Europe, Eastern Africa and the Middle East commenced in 2013. It aims at developing infrastructure corridors in the above-stated regions that would cost an estimated USD 4 to 8 trillion, which is expected to touch the figure of 30 trillion up to 2035; whereas, the US under PGII is merely intending a meagre amount of $ 600 billion to invest in developing countries collectively from 7 top economies as opposed to the spending in trillions from China alone. According to official data, China had invested USD 139.8 billion by 2020 in BRI projects including USD 22.5 billion alone last year. This includes the BRI flagship project of USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in which Beijing has so far invested over $ 25 billion in December 2021 contrary to a minute amount of USD 2.8 billion G7 under (PGII) will invest in the first go merely in few countries.

Unlike PGII soft projects, projects of BRI are mainly focused on hard infrastructure which includes building bridges, spreading a network of rail and roads, minings, constructing seaports, and laying oil and gas pipelines across Asia, Europe and the Middle East with the sole objective of expediting global connectivity & this is what (PGII) entirely lacks. Under BRI, China is completely focused on accelerating the economic integration among countries along the historic Silk Road via six corridors including New Eurasian Land Bridge Corridor, China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor, China-Central Asia- West Asia Economic Corridor, China- Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor, Bangladesh- China- India- Myanmar Economic Corridor and China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Moreover, connecting China to the Middle East, the African continent and Europe via maritime routes extending from the Pacific Ocean to the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea and finally to the Mediterranean sea is also part of the BRI project. Hence, it can easily be assessed from the above discussion that the quantum and size of the BRI scheme are much bigger before the tiny initiative of PGII. Critically examined and analysed, the initiation of such schemes by the US-led G7 is not something unheard of previously. Embarking on the policy of containment of China, the US has always strived to launch the projects like B3W and now PGII. It is only China’s rise that has compelled and pressed the US and its allies to announce these initiatives solely to counterbalance China’s BRI. Otherwise, the bloc of G7 has nothing to do with the betterment, prosperity and infrastructural development of third-world countries. The nefarious designs of Western Powers behind trapping developing countries in their inescapable net of IMF are not clandestine from anyone. Therefore, these initiatives by the west aimed at ameliorating the lives of people in poor countries are absolutely unjustifiable.

It is an undeniable truth that the new world order is rapidly evolving from unipolar to bipolar, which is blatantly bullying the US unilateralism. Both China’s economic might and Russia’s military resurgence are posing a great threat to the US hegemony all over the globe. More than any other resurging and resuscitating power, China alone, being the second largest economy in the world is becoming a molesting pain for the US, which might replace the US as a superpower soon if it keeps rising and progressing at the same pace and momentum. The US has left no stone unturned and has practised all kinds of stratagems to counter China’s rise. In a fit of virulence against China, the US besides (B3W and PGII) had also forged military alliances termed AUKUS and QUAD with her allies inclining India, Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom specifically to diminish China’s influence and hinder its progressivism in the Indo-Pacific region. Moreover, in a foil attempt to get the upper hand over all other economic and social blocs, the G7 nations in their last summit haughtily declared this group as an “International Society” which was later on heavily criticized and mocked by China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian. He said, “a bloc representing merely 777 million population could not dictate the global terms as opposed to the BRICS that represents over 3.2 billion population that makes 40% of the world population”. In addition, BRICS nations collectively account for 25% of the global economy, and 18% of the world trade and contribute 50% to the world economic growth.

Thus, it is proved that the G7 bid wrapped in this newly announced initiative (PGII) is too frail to counter China’s mega-project and G7 is making its international mockery by launching PGII, which is just a pinch of salt before the BRI– a vigorous economic project.

The writer is a freelance columnist based in Gujranwala. He can be reached on his Instagram @waseemshabbir55.

G7 Infrastructure Plan to counter BRI By Waseem Shabbir

Source:  https://dailytimes.com.pk/968977/g7-infrastructure-plan-to-counter-bri/

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