At the G7 Conference on Sunday, President Joe Biden announced the relaunch of a global infrastructure initiative designed to counter China’s growing global influence.
Biden pledged to spend $200 billion over the next five years on the program, one-third of the $600 billion planned to be spent by G7 countries overall.
The initiative is named the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment is a rebranding of Biden’s Build Back Better World initiative announced at last year’s G-7 summit, named after Biden’s failed domestic agenda Build Back Better.
The program will be funded through a mix of government financing, grants, and private investment.
While Biden did not mention China by name during his remarks, the program is largely seen as a counter to China’s Belt and Road initiative that launched in 2013. China invested $59.5 billion in the Belt and Road initiative in 2021, with the stated goal of “[constructing] a unified large market” by building infrastructure in developing countries. While it was initially focused on countries near the historical Silk Road and other South Asia and Southeast Asia countries, it has since expanded globally, including projects in Africa and South America.
Critics say the Belt and Road initiative is designed to increase Chinese influence globally, and some have raised concerns about environmental destruction and alleged worker abuse. Proponents counter that it has reduced friction on global trade and has the potential to increase the global GDP.
Biden stated that the program would encourage countries to partner with democracies, but that the investments are not global handouts.
“I want to be clear: This isn’t aid or charity,” Biden explained. “It’s an investment that will deliver returns for everyone, including the American people and the people of all our nations. It will boost all of our economies and it’s a chance for us to share our positive vision for the future and let communities around the world see themselves and see for themselves the concrete benefits of partnering with democracies.”
Reporting from Sputnik.