US President Joe Biden announced on Sunday a G7 project to rival China’s Belt and Road Initiative by raising some $600 billion for global infrastructure programmes in poor countries.
“Together with G7 partners, we aim to mobilise $600 billion by 2027 in global infrastructure investments,” the White House said shortly ahead of a speech by Biden unveiling the proposal.
The plan, which relaunches a first attempt unveiled during last year’s G7, will target countries desperately needing everything from roads to harbours – and until now often relying on the Chinese.
The BRI project has successfully used Chinese infrastructure know-how to spread Beijing’s economic and diplomatic tentacles into strategic points around world, leaving Western governments flat-footed.
Biden, whose presidency is centred on restoring US leadership after the isolationist policies under Donald Trump, says his version will not only catch up but provide a better alternative.
Unlike the Chinese version, reliant on state-controlled funds and companies, Biden said the US and other G7 governments will only provide limited amounts of money, while incentivising massive private sector investments.
In this capitalist vs communist scenario, US officials say, recipient countries will be able to avoid the alleged debt traps and other strong-arm tactics used by the Chinese to extend their physical investments into a political and financial grip on vulnerable nations.
Between now and 2027, the United States government will shoot for the $600-billion figure “through grants, federal financing, and leveraging private sector investments,” the White House said.