G-7 leaders start talks, with eye on pandemic, economy and China

The leaders of the Group of Seven Developed Countries began their three-day talks in the UK on Friday, focusing on the response to the coronavirus pandemic, the security challenges of an increasingly confident China and ways to ensure a global economic recovery.

The summit is the first of its kind in nearly two years and is likely to underscore the US return to multilateralism under President Joe Biden, in a departure from the unilateral “America First” policy of his predecessor Donald Trump.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, his wife Carrie Johnson and US President Joe Biden with First Lady Jill Biden walk outside the Carbis Bay Hotel in Cornwall, South West England on June 10, 2021. (WPA-Pool / Getty / Kyodo)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will chair the summit in the seaside resort of Carbis Bay, Cornwall, together with his counterparts from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the USA and the European Union.

For Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, the event is the first major international meeting he has physically attended since taking office in September.

The meeting takes place amid a renewed focus on the democratic values ​​shared by G-7 members and contrasts with China and Russia, which Biden describes as autocracies challenging the open international order.

The main topic of discussion on the first day is ensuring the global economic recovery after the pandemic-induced downturn.

The United States has stated that it is calling on its G-7 partners to provide short-term fiscal assistance to create a balanced global recovery as well as long-term investment.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (C) and his wife Mariko are greeted in the early morning hours of June 11, 2021 after their arrival at an airport in Cornwall, England. (Kyodo)

On the second day, participants are expected to discuss geopolitical challenges and trade and development finance, and possibly develop a new initiative to finance infrastructure in developing countries as an alternative to the Beijing Belt and Road project.

Beijing’s cross-border infrastructure project has often been criticized for its “debt-trap diplomacy,” which allegedly lacks transparency in lending and can burden countries with large debts.

The G-7 leaders will then hold a meeting on major foreign policy issues, such as matters affecting North Korea, Russia and Iran, and another meeting to tackle the pandemic, which will be followed by host countries – Australia be, India, South Africa and South Korea.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the meeting remotely as he has decided not to travel to the summit due to the pandemic that has hit the South Asian country hard.

As China and Russia operate so-called vaccination diplomacy to increase their effectiveness, the UK is calling on G-7 members to make “concrete commitments” to vaccinate the whole world by the end of 2022.

During the summit, the Club of Wealthy Democratic Nations is expected to pledge to bring at least 1 billion doses of vaccine to the world to end the pandemic in 2022, the UK government said on Thursday.

The final day of the G-7 summit will focus on efforts to promote democracy, human rights, the rule of law and open societies amid concerns over China’s alleged abuses against the Muslim Uighur minority in the Xinjiang region and crackdown on Hong Kong.

Leaders are also expected to reaffirm their commitment to tackling climate change before concluding their three-day discussions.

In addition to the range of issues the G-7 will be addressing, Japan is seeking support for its efforts to host the Tokyo Olympics from next month amid ongoing skepticism that the global sporting event will be completely undermined without the pandemic To keep control.

The heads of state and government are expected to issue a joint communique after the summit.

Previous meetings of G-7 leaders during the Trump presidency have been divided, with disagreements over trade and other issues. At the last personal meeting chaired by France in 2019, it was not possible to adopt a comprehensive joint declaration, as has been the case in previous decades.

The United States held the rotating presidency in 2020, but Trump called the more than four decades-old G-7 framework “out of date” and ended up not hosting a personal summit amid the pandemic and presidential campaign.

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