BRI & B3W: Economic Dominance between Global South & North

Ongoing trade war between the US and China has now entered into a new “phase” of “fierce” competition of ultimate economic “dominance” in which global South and North are apparently inching towards point of no return. Huge financial resources have now been pledged by the G7 to counter Chinese economic participatory model of shared prosperity in the world.

Most recently held G7 Summit had certain socio-economic, geopolitical and geostrategic aims to reprimand China over a range of issues. The G7 intentionally adopted distinctly “Cold War” overtones which vividly reflected the deepening sense that resilient Russia and rising China may create security threats to the West.

In its strongest rebuke of China, the G7 called for a fresh investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic and urged China to “respect human rights and fundamental freedoms” in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

The G7 and especially President Biden issued a confrontational joint statement about Russian and Chinese government chastising Beijing over its internal repression, vowing to investigate the pandemic’s origins, and excoriating Moscow for using nerve agents and cyber weapons.

It seems that the G7 leaders tried to present a unified front against a range of threats. However, the G7 do not present any concrete road map, strategic planning and financial resource management/capacity. Moreover, they disagreed about numerous burning issues of survival and production i.e. halting the burning of coal to committing tens or hundreds of billions of dollars in aid to challenge Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, China’s overseas investment and lending push.

The G7 Summit’s final communiqué called on China to restore the freedoms guaranteed to Hong Kong when Britain returned it to Chinese control, and condemned Mr. Putin’s “destabilizing behavior and malign activities,” including interfering with elections and a “systematic crackdown” on dissidents and the media.

It projected the West as the ideological rival of a growing number of so called autocracies, offering a democratic alternative that US president Biden conceded they had to prove would be more attractive around the world.

The joint statement highlighted issues pertaining to pandemic recovery to the global economy, tax, trade and girls’ education and asked China to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms. They promised to end the pandemic through an intensified international effort.

They chalked out recovery plans to reinvigorate. They emphasized to championing freer, fairer trade within a reformed trading system, a more resilient global economy, and a fairer global tax system that reverses the race to the bottom. They promised to secure future prosperity by championing freer, fairer trade within a reformed trading system, a more resilient global economy, and a fairer global tax system that reverses the race to the bottom.

On its part China immediately, denounced the joint statement of the G7 and warned that the days when a “small” group of countries decided the fate of the world were long gone. The Chinese embassy in UK noted that the only legitimate global order was based on UN backed international law, and not the so-called system and order advocated by a handful of countries.

It urged to support genuine multilateralism based on the principles of equal treatment and cooperation, and rejects the pseudo-multilateralism which only serves the interests of a “small clique

Chinese Foreign Ministry warned that attempts to gang up on Beijing will fail and calling for a more objective and rational approach to international relations. China has long maintained that Washington’s influence over global affairs was waning.

Till today more than 100 countries have signed agreements with China to cooperate in Belt and Road (BRI) projects like railways, ports, highways and other infrastructure. The G7 proposed Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative and floated an alternative model of regional as well as international economic partnership against the BRI.

In its most recently held G7 Summit in England, leaders tried to hammer out a plan to counter China’s growing economic clout in the world. They arrived at a consensus and offered developing nations an infrastructure plan which can rival China’s multi-million-dollar Belt and Road Initiative or BRI.

The proposed mega infrastructure plan was led by United States president Joe Biden. The Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative, will provide a transparent infrastructure partnership to help narrow the $40 trillion and called it values-driven, high-standard and transparent” partnership.

They raised serious concerns about alleged lack of transparency, poor environmental and labour standards, and coercive approach of the Chinese government that had left many countries worse off in its project of the century, BRI which is untrue, not factual and false.

China’s BRI was launched by its president Xi Jinping in 2013, involved development and investment initiatives that would stretch from Asia to Europe and beyond. According to a Refinitiv database (June, 2020) more than 2600 projects of cost of $3.7 trillion were tagged to the BRI.

Right from the beginning, the Western pseudo intellectuals have been propagated against Xi’s plan to create a modern version of the ancient Silk Road trade route to link China with Asia, Europe and beyond and termed it a vehicle for the expansion of Communist China. Beijing rejected it and upheld that such doubts betray the imperial hangover of the West.

The B3W floated by the US, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and Italy called for spending hundreds of billions of dollars in collaboration with the private sector while protecting the climate standards and labour practices. However, there is no announcement about how exactly the plan would work or how much capital it would ultimately allocate.

India the strategic ally of the US in South Asia has been expressing its concerns about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship project of BRI. The massive infrastructure project connects China’s Xinjiang province with Gwadar port in Pakistan’s Balochistan province.

China has been defending the CPEC, saying it is an economic project not aimed at any third country. On its part Pakistan has already attached its future socio-economic prosperity with CPEC.

India refused to join the Chinese initiative in the past and raised its voice against the BRI. Though India has officially not reacted to G7 countries’ latest plan, it is expected to be welcome news for India.

The US will work with the US Congress to supplement existing development financing and to “collectively catalyse hundreds of billions of dollars of infrastructure investment which will have a political cost too

The adoption of the US-inspired “Build Back Better World” (B3W) project came after President Joe Biden and leaders met to address “strategic competition with China and commit to concrete actions to help meet the tremendous infrastructure need in low- and middle-income countries”, the White House said.

China has been widely criticised for saddling small countries with unmanageable debt as part of its trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, which has seen money lent for projects stretching across Asia, Africa, Latin America and even Europe and dubbed it  “debt-trap diplomacy” which does not have logical substance and economic evidence.

The White House said the G7 initiative would be similarly global in scope, estimating that the developing world needs more than $40 trillion in infrastructure, a gap “which has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

“B3W will collectively catalyse hundreds of billions of dollars of infrastructure investment for low- and middle-income countries in the coming years.

Funding will emphasise the environment and climate, labour safeguards, transparency, and anti-corruption, it added, in implicit contrast to China´s opaque funding.

The G7 and its allies will use the B3W initiative to mobilise private-sector capital in areas such as climate, health and health security, digital technology, and gender equity and equality, the White House added.

The re-emergence of China as a leading global power is considered to be one of the most significant geopolitical events of recent times, alongside the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union that ended the Cold War.

China in 1979 had an economy that was smaller than Italy’s, but after opening to foreign investment and introducing market reforms, it has become the world’s second-largest economy and is a global leader in a range of new technologies.

Being prominent regional expert on China, CPEC and BRI I fairly evaluate that a pledge toward creating a strategic framework of Build Back Better World (B3W)” seems to be just a vague promise.

During 2019 the “Blue Dot” initiative was developed by the US along with Australia and Japan. It was a global infrastructure Kite-mark, aiming to attract private sector money from pension funds and other major investors to emerging market infrastructure deals. Same is the case of the highly projected B3W which does not have money of its own. Only pledges and promises.

Chinese investments are famous for high-quality infrastructure at reasonable cost. It is financially self-sufficient to launch mega projects like BRI the project of the century, Silk Road and even the CPEC flagship project of the BRI. But in case of financial constrains and weak economic limitations of the EU will not allow them to absorb B3W.

Moreover, the G7 is exclusive instead of inclusive, unrepresentative of the world’s largest economies like that of China and other emerging countries, and a Caucasian, Catholic club of traditional elites who once dominated the world with the military and economic might. However, rise to white man supremacy has once again provoked the West to wage another trade war against rising China.

Interesting the G7 also appears to be a cohort of countries that do not want to accept changing realities of a new upcoming world order: where economic power and innovation is steadily shifting from the West to the East, and the status-quo elites want to cling on to their status of 5 decades ago, at all costs. It seems that they are still making castles in the air.

Western Clean Green Initiative (WCGI) was floated as an alternative to the Belt and Road Initiative but could not be initiated because of numerous complex and complicated reasons. Thus B3W may also meet such kind of disastrous.

The G7 represents the Global North where as China the Global South. 21th century belongs to Asia and of course China. The visionary leadership of Xi strives hard to achieve an equal and equitable world without any discrimination. Its ongoing vaccine diplomacy has become icon of hope, survival and recovery. Its economic recovery despite COVID-19 has prompted signs of regional as well as global recovery. Its positive, productive and participatory universalism has given new concept of global governance. Its financial banks, institutions and organizations like SCO are disseminating signs of hope and better future world.

Furthermore, Chinese spirits are promoting interconnectivity, socio-economic prosperity, regional integration, food & energy security, peace and stability in the region and beyond. It never attacked any country on the self-inserted and defined presumption of truth.

It is suggested that instead of sanctioning a new Cold War, the G7 should cooperate to address vaccine nationalism seen in their countries. They should make a unified effort to bridge the inequality in access to vaccines between the developed and developing countries, seek China’s cooperation in climate change and research and development for preempting future pandemics and strengthen multilateralism and multilateral institutions like the United Nations and WHO.

The Western media are highlighting the unlimited blessings of newly coined and floated so called tool of alternative project i.e. Build Back Better World (B3W). It seems to another Marshall plan of the West to impose certain inhuman conditions, economic bargaining, and political compulsions on the developing and under developing countries around the globe.

World chess board is inching towards “Global South” due to which it seems that Global North would be losing. The Western economic protectionism could not achieve anything but greater ratios of poverty, lay-offs, declining of economies and lowering of manufacturing capacities. Their constant apartheid policies through ages and shameful colonial past should be self-defeating.

The announcement of B3W has opened a wider window of opportunity for Pakistan to seek more investments, transfer of technology facilities, Artificial Intelligence apparatus, green energies, green revolution and above all further consolidation of political consultation between Pakistan and China. It is the need of the hour to expedite CPEC Phase-II immediately in the country through seeking and securing greater economic and financial concessions.

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Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan KHAN
Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan was born on September 11, 1969 in Lahore, Pakistan. After finishing Primary and Secondary School in his hometown, in 1992 he entered the Faculty of Public Administration, University of Punjab, Lahoer. He has specialties in management, marketing, economics and governance. He has also master degree in Development with specialization in Diplomacy and Public Relations. He has degrees in International relations and basic Law too. He completed his M.Phil. leading to Ph.D. in 2010 from University of Punjab, Pakistan in Development. He has vast experience in serving different departments of the Federal Government. He has also a rich experience in research, peace and conflict resolution and defence issues. He has been in this profession for more than 25 years. He worked in BBC Asia Network as regional expert on Afghanistan and Middle East in 2004. He worked as regional expert in USGAM, Turkey and had a great experience while interacting with TRT too. Transparency International UK selected him “peer Viewer” from Pakistan in 2015. His research and comprehensive articles have already been published in China, Uzbekistan, Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan, USA, South Korea, UAE and Kuwait too. He has great experience in the socio-economic, geo-politics and geo-strategic issues of Central Asia, Caucasus and Middle East. He is a famous expert on CIS and Caucasus in Pakistan. Member Board of Experts: CGSS, Islamabad. Ambassador at large at IHRFW.