The G7 was stronger in terms of values ​​than hard money

Since his election as President of the United States, Joe Biden has not lost any opportunity to declare that “America is backThe core message of the just-concluded G7 summit in Cornwall can be summed up as “The Return of the West.” The assembled leaders’ goal was to demonstrate unity, purpose and leadership in tackling the world’s problems – and reaching out to the wider world.

It was the first summit meeting of the Group of Seven nations – the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada and Italy – since the outbreak of the pandemic and the defeat of Donald Trump. But, while the leaders gathered in Cornwall they offered a lot of ambitionThe summit leaves behind big questions about whether the G7’s rhetoric will fit its own.

This issue of delivery hangs on many of the big topics of the G7 — including vaccines, climate, and efforts to create an international infrastructure campaign to rival China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

On vaccines, G7 has promise To deliver 1 billion doses to the developing world within a year. But this seemingly impressive number might be a bit too low and Too late. The World Health Organization has He said The world needs 11 billion doses of vaccine to effectively combat the Corona virus. An application that could take 18 months would mean more deaths – and a long time to develop new vaccine-resistant strains of the virus.

Competition with China has been the central theme of most of the G7 summit. But the Chinese government is likely to pledge more vaccines to the wider world than the G7. However, the doubts about effectiveness From Chinese vaccinations may mean that this is a blessing and a curse.

The G7’s determination to fend off China’s growing global influence was most evident in the group’s support for a Western alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative to build infrastructure across the developing world. The idea is that G7 Option It will provide higher environmental standards and more transparency on loans and governance.

But it is also likely to offer less money – a point on which the G7 statement becomes noticeably vague. Meanwhile, Chinese banks and companies are already working hard on notable projects around the world – such as building a new one مشروع The capital of Egypt.

Beyond the ads and headlines, there is a deeper question about how united the Western world really is in its determination to oppose Chinese influence. Even in the margins of the G7, it was clear that the language used by the United States and Japan was noticeably stronger than the rhetoric of Europeans.

The four countries invited to join the G7 in Cornwall – notably India and Australia – are clearly important to any effort to organize the democratic world to counter China. But speaking ahead of the G7 summit, Emmanuel Macron, President of France, said, compressed Europe’s need to maintain its “independence when it comes to our strategy towards China”. Those sentiments will be shared by Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and even, to some extent, Boris Johnson. An angry official from an allied country described Britain’s prime minister as “still wanting to have his cake and eat it in China”.

The G7 cannot avoid the fact that Chinese cooperation is necessary to tackle climate change. What the leaders gathered in Cornwall have tried to do is provide leadership for the global effort. They announced ambitious plans to shut down polluting coal-fired power plants as quickly as possible — and protect 30 percent of the planet’s land and oceans by 2030. The official statement inevitably had little light on the details. But doubts remain that practical steps to achieve these goals may not be imminent.

After Cornwall, Biden’s next stop will be the NATO summit in Brussels – followed by a meeting with Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president. The G7 statement made a point calls for An investigation into the use of chemical weapons on Russian soil – as well as a condemnation of Russia’s tolerance of ransomware attacks launched from its territory. The hope is that Putin will be impressed by the show of Western resolve and unity in Cornwall and Brussels.

To be sure, this year’s G7 summit presented a stark contrast to the Trump years, when the US president seemed more eager to stoke divisions with old allies than to show unity. Even Trump-friendly Johnson may have been honest when he called Biden a “breath of fresh air” for the Western alliance.

Putin – as well as Chinese President Xi Jinping – will note that things have clearly changed in the Western alliance, with Trump leaving the White House. But will the Russian and Chinese leaders be intimidated or reprimanded? Maybe not yet.

Follow Gideon Rachman with myFT and on Twitter

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