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US Build Back Better World’s (B3W) Anti-BRI Plan – OpEd

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The world’s seven wealthy economies (US, France, Germany, Canada, UK, Italy, and Japan) have articulated a plan to encompass Chinese exceedingly boosted economic clouts across the globe. In G7 Summit in Cornwall, England, they reached a consensus and presented a new proposal for developing countries an infrastructure venture which would be contending China’s gigantic multi-billion dollar project of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This B3W project proposed President Biden with the collaboration of other major like-minded democracies. This venture has three key components such as; infrastructure development, Free and Open Indo-Pacific, gender equality, and climate-related issues. However, besides this, it would also try to tackle Covide-19 health-related crises in developing countries by providing them vaccine. But, in the initial phase, G7 states only presented this containment strategy to prevaricate China’s economic and political influence, but these nations yet do not demonstrate their commitments on how they will mobilize resources for B3W and which type of strategy they would adopt to implement their plan. 

Correspondingly, former US President Donald Trump has also been offered anti-BRI Blue Dot Network (BDN) project in November 2019 during the addressing 35th ASEAN summit which took place in Bangkok with the collaboration of Japan and Australia, and India has also shown its interest under the quadrilateral mechanism to join the BDN during the bilateral meeting with US president Donald Trumps on 25 February. 

BDN will be a multi-stakeholder initiative that would give access to governments, private sectors, and civil society together promotes high-quality trustworthy criteria for global infrastructure development. The international community continuously asserted that the BRI project serves China’s political interest rather than the host nation’s infrastructure requirements. Western countries have proclamations that the Chinese government was busy working through the BRI to constructs bridges, beaches, ports, and 5G technologies around the world. The international community has assertions that BRI is debt-trap strategy, and through this strategy, countries are underling their sovereignty.  

In contrast, BDN-certifies ventures will be transpicuous in financing with high standers of construction, labor, and environment. Likewise, BDN will offer developing states inducements to enact regulatory reforms that will attract the world’s private capital. BDN will provide loans for industries to alleviate risk and propose a certified seal of approval backed by each host nation. The objective of this plan is to enhance the bankable infrastructure investment in developing states. BDN supported democratic countries presume that this venture can transform infrastructure into an investment class. BDN’s next chapter has started with the arrival of President Joe Biden, and he reoriented BDN to the B3W project. 

It is per-suppose B3W strategy would not be proficient to compete with BRI, because BRI project was initiated in 2013 already made the greatest strides in the world to make allies for their business and constantly enhancing influence around the world. BRI is a huge developmental project that comprises many developments and investment initiatives in construction, transportation, energy, aviation, and telecommunication sectors, which encompasses from East-Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. 

In contrast B3W, G7 countries will coordinate with other like-minded states in mobilizing capital in the private sector in four specific areas- health, climate, digital technology, and gender equality and B3W will be a globalized strategy that encircles from Latin America, the Caribbean to Africa to Indo-Pacific region. G7 states will have divergent geographic orientations, but collectively initiatives will cover poor countries across the world. However, it is the largest project and protagonist countries have indicated that they will deliver 35 trillion worth of venture by 2035, but the question is arises who will contribute this huge amount because the US is constantly losing its creditability and presently not more trustworthy for its allies. Currently, the international system has transformed unipolar to the multipolar world and the international community has keenly observed that the US playing a role as a warmonger and looking for another competitor globally. In this scenario, economically developed nations B3W have supposed this project merely political propaganda against China’s flagship project of BRI.

Further, developing countries are showing reluctance to appreciate US offers with the collaboration of other developed countries whatever they proffer. In the present time, US is moving from Afghanistan as a defeated country without any settled agreements among the stakeholders. History is repeated, once again Taliban’s power is rising that would make a complex security web for regional actors. All of this situation, no state is willing to rely on US and its allies G7 for any assistance, particularly Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has already refused the US for airbases.

At the same time, there are some developed countries such as Germany, Japan, Italy, and European Union having reliant on trading with China, and wanted to enhance diplomatic ties. These countries emphasizing increasing cooperation in specific areas with China on arms control and climate change. Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel is avoiding direct confrontation with Beijing, and she stresses that the G7 nation’s efforts to B3W would not anti-China strategy. European Union is also showing more concerns to promote cooperation with China in Africa on infrastructure development. German and French counterparts hold an online meeting with Chinses President Xi Jinping, where these three countries intended to work together on infrastructure projects through the Chinese-led mega “Belt and Road Initiative” to produce common development ventures. 

Moreover, German and French governments from the European side have proposed their commitment that they with work with China to provide pandemic support, simultaneously Chinese government had provided free vaccines to more than 40 African states and signed debt reprieve pact with some of the countries. European counterpart will enhance their assistance and support to Africa, on urgent bases provide them vaccine, support African nations to handle debt pressure, and collaborate with China to Africa’s economic recovery and green low-carbon development. China-Germany-France cooperation in Africa demonstrated that these two nations are opened their door of partnership with Beijing. They are wanted to sustain amicable diplomatic relations with both the US and China, they do not need to choose between them. Some European nations realized that how exceedingly China’s engagement in African countries has altered international order, which Europe always considered its sphere of influence. 

Consequently, the US, India, Canada, and some countries from Europe such as the UK, Belgium are staunch devotees of the B3W project, some Brics states, and Australia also backed this new initiative. The Indian government has asserted that New Delhi would remain to engage with G7 partners on all global issues related to health, access to vaccine, climate, diversifications of the supply chain, and constructing economic resilience. However, there would be a benefit for the developing countries bring prosperity, and will create opportunities for them, which looking to modernize their infrastructure. Significantly, both B3W and BRI would remain open and non-inclusive. The country would be free to choose one project from BRI and one from B3W. The main hindrance is raising tensions between the US and China, and the B3W strategy indicated that US is elevating strategic competition with China and counter China’s rapidly growing influence by commitments to help developing countries infrastructure development plans that would rival the BRI initiative.  

*Nadia Shaheen is pursuing a PH.D in International Relations from SIPA (School of International & Public Affairs), Jilin University, Changchun, China.  

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