The Group of Seven (G7) countries have announced plans for a major infrastructure project for developing nations in a bid to rival China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), also known as “One Belt, One Road.”
The agreement on the initiative titled Build Back Better World (B3W) came on the second day of the Cornwall summit of the seven richest democracies carried out in southwestern England.
The vast project is aimed at providing a transparent infrastructure partnership to “help narrow the $40+ trillion infrastructure need in the developing world, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a senior official in the US presidential administration.
“This is not just about confronting or taking on China,” the top official said. “But until now we haven’t offered a positive alternative that reflects our values, our standards and our way of doing business.”
According to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the “important initiative” is much needed in Africa.
“We can’t sit back and say that China will do it but it’s the G7’s ambition to have a positive agenda for a number of countries in the world which are still lagging behind… I welcome it,” the German leader said.
It was not immediately disclosed how the project would be implemented or how much investment it would ultimately take. The G7 members also didn’t specify an implementation time.
China’s BRI, dubbed the 21st century Silk Road project, was announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping eight years ago. The major project involves development and investment initiatives that would stretch from Asia to Europe and beyond. Since then, Beijing has inked around 200 cooperation documents with 167 countries and international organizations.
The multi-trillion-dollar initiative aims to boost connectivity and cooperation between Asia, Europe, Africa, and Latin America. Experts say it will significantly boost global commerce, cutting trading costs by half for the countries involved.
The project has been sharply criticized by the US and EU officials as a vehicle for the expansion of Communist China with Beijing saying that those doubts betray the “imperial hangover” of many Western powers that humiliated China for centuries.
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