This week, President Joe Biden is traveling to Europe for meetings with NATO and Group of Seven (G7) leaders. The White House has plans to use the summits to increase Western pressure on China.
Biden is currently in the German Alps on the first leg of his trip. On Sunday, he met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to kick off the G7 summit. During the meeting, Biden announced a $600 billion global infrastructure initiative to combat Chine’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Washington claims Beijing’s BRI invests money in developing countries but uses the debt to coerce governments into adopting pro-China policies.
A senior US official speaking with reporters said Western nations believe early participants in BRI are experiencing buyer’s remorse, and the G7’s initiative would have an edge. "There’s no doubt that BRI has been around for several years and it’s made a lot of cash disbursements and 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 President said the US will contribute by mobilizing $200 billion in grants, federal funds and private investment over five years. According to Biden, the five-year plan – dubbed the Partnership for Global Infrastructure – will target climate change, global health, gender equity and digital infrastructure. He indicated the initiative will also be used further his foreign policy goal of promoting democracy. We will “see the concrete benefits of partnering with democracies,” Biden said.
The initiative is similar to a proposal made a last year’s G7 summit, called Build Back Better World. POLITICO labels Partnership for Global Infrastructure a mere re-brand of Build Back Better World and claims the new proposal will likely meet the same fate. "Much of the funding behind the new plan appears aspirational and seems to fall short of its lofty goals," POLITICO reported.
After the German-hosted G7 summit, Biden will travel to Spain to meet with NATO leaders. While Russia will be at the forefront of discussions, the White House hopes the alliance will adopt a more aggressive China policy. “Russia’s war against Ukraine has galvanized our partnerships around the world. It’s also showing how Ukraine is not causing us to take our eye off the ball on China. In fact, quite the opposite,” a US official said last week.
At the meeting in Madrid, NATO will release a new strategy document. Washington intends to influence other Western leaders to include "strong" language targeting Beijing. “Leaders will also advance a vision of the world grounded in freedom and openness – not coercion, not aggression, not spheres of influence. They will strengthen our cooperation on economic issues, cyberspace and quantum [computing], and in particular, the challenges posed by China,” the official added.
While previous NATO security documents mention China, the new security strategy identifies Beijing as an adversary. Chinese officials have condemned the American plans. Foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said, “NATO is a product of the Cold War and the world’s biggest military alliance dominated by the US. It is a tool for the US to maintain its hegemony and influence Europe’s security landscape [which] is clearly against the trend of our times.”
“NATO has already disrupted stability in Europe. It should not try to do the same to the Asia-Pacific and the whole world,” he added.