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G7 Announces Infrastructure Program To Counter China's Belt And Road Initiative

By RFE/RL June 26, 2022

The Group of Seven (G7) has formally launched a global infrastructure and investment partnership aimed at countering a Chinese program that has been embraced by many developing countries.

The G7 program seeks to raise $600 billion in investment to boost infrastructure development in lower- and middle-income nations, the White House said in a statement on June 26.

Unlike China's program, known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the one proposed by the G7 would provide funding largely from private investors.

Western officials have argued that China's BRI uses strong-arm tactics that trap countries in debt and employs investments that benefit China more than the countries participating in the program. Among the countries that have signed long-term BRI deals are Afghanistan, Iran, and Hungary.

The United States says the G7-backed effort, announced during a summit taking place in Germany, promotes responsible investments that aim to benefit the communities that receive the investment.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the G7 is offering "sustainable, quality infrastructure" and will be "listening closely to the recipient countries."

The plan, a relaunch of a program unveiled during last year's G7 summit, will target countries desperately needing everything from roads to harbors that until now often relied on China's BRI.

Among the first initiatives are a $2 billion solar farm investment in Angola, a $320 million investment for hospital construction in Ivory Coast, and a $40 million investment to promote regional energy trade in Southeast Asia.

The $600 billion investment target is only aspirational, but a senior U.S. official who briefed reporters denied that China has a real advantage.

"There's no doubt that the Belt and Road Initiative has been around for several years and it's made a lot of cash disbursements and investments -- and that we're coming to this after years of their investments," the official said. "But I would argue that it is definitely not too late. And I'm not even sure that it is late."

The official also said that many countries that have partnered with China come to regret it and conclude that Beijing is more interested in establishing economic and geostrategic footholds than helping them develop.

The G7 program, on the other hand, will offer to make investments that "have lasting effects" on the countries' economies and population, the official said.

With reporting by AP, AFP, and dpa

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/g7-global-infrastructure-investment- plan-bri-china/31915926.html

Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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