As the G7 summit progresses in Cornwall, England, US President Joe Biden is pushing to create a united front against China. The centerpiece of this plan is an infrastructure proposal intended to counter China’s Belt-and-Road initiative. The proposal is labeled “Build Back Better for the World.” Despite the rather mundane and unoriginal tag that it carries, the Biden administration has high hopes for the proposal, which is intended to be a blueprint to compete with China economically on equal terms. Unfortunately, it could very well be a matter of being too little, too late. China has had a lengthy head start when it comes to its infrastructure initiatives abroad. Billions of dollars have already been dropped into developing countries to fund areas deemed essential to Belt-and-Road development. Beijing’s economic influence and presence already expands far and wide beyond its borders. Put simply, China has had a head start in this area and it is difficult to see what steps the Biden plan will include to level the playing field. As it stands right now, China appears to have an almost decisive advantage in this area.
Other aspects of the Biden plan to create a united front against China will include applying pressure in response to its Uyghur reeducation camps and the dramatic rollback of democracy in Hong Kong in recent years.
How the other G7 leaders respond to the Biden plan will be of keen interest. Publicly this weekend, they will lavish their approval and appear united while standing in front of the world. However, it could very well be a different matter entirely when these leaders return to their respective capitals. Some G7 leaders have dragged their feet when it comes to confronting China. Time will tell if the Biden effort will coalesce into an effective instrument for the West to wield in the face of a resurgent and increasingly aggressive China, or if it is destined to become a forgotten blueprint in the weeks and months to come.