By Herman Tiu Laurel
Led by the U.S. the G7 has been increasing and unceasing its very hostile cursing of China on a dozen of concocted transgressions of Human Rights since the U.S. declared China its “strategic competitor” in 2017.
Yet, after the tons of calumnies the West has heaped on China, last week it announced at the G7 Summit in Cornwall, England, a plan to copy China’s Belt and Road Initiative that has helped the Global South nations start lift-off towards economic prosperity.
As the quote from Oscar Wilde goes, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.”
And doubtless now, the West, particularly the arch-China critic U.S.A. is actually paying paeans to China for re-introducing and re-inventing the ancient Chinese creation that dates back to 130 B.C. now called the Ancient Silk Road that brought silk, porcelain, tea, to the West and even noodles that became spaghetti and “kietchap” that became Ketchup.
China’s gargantuan multi-trillion Dollars New Silk Road project, better known today as the Belt and Road Initiative, along with the accompanying financial arm the AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank), includes over a hundred countries participating: 40 in Africa, 34 in E.U. and Central Asia, 24 in East Asia and Pacific.
China’s imports and exports to countries and regions along the Belt and Road routes reached 9.37 trillion yuan ($1.45 trillion) in 2020, up 1 percent year-on-year.
Summing up the impact of China’s BRI is former Liberian public works minister Gyude Moore in a one-hour interview with the Paulson Institute in March 2019 who asked the audience to “dream with me for a minute” describing China’s maritime Belt and Road cutting a nine-month land shipment from China to Africa down to one week and the six-lane highways crisscrossing Africa bring goods from one end to the other in three-days.
Gyude Moore also explained how financing and credit is hampered by Africa’s payment risks due to instability of African governments and only China has “risk appetite” which Africa finds irreplaceable. Due to the BRI and Chinese funds Moore said, “There will be 850-million African entering the work force by 2050… if we do not grow the economy … that’s going to be a huge problem… so China is going to be a very big part of Africa’s future ….”
The U.S. is feeling very “left behind” by China and friends across the globe, especially by the most promising market of the future – Africa where 800-million new citizens will be entering its work force and consumer market in the next generations.
U.S. President Trump, and now Biden, feel the terror of being left alone, isolated, unwanted, uninvolved, in the future of the rest of the planet; frantically grasping to hang-on and claw back into the scene and centerstage.
Biden proposes the “Blue Dot” project for the G7 that would match China’s Belt and Road Initiative with funding from public-private Western sources for infrastructure projects for the Third World countries.
Skepticism has met the proposal as the United States and European economies still faltering from the Covid-19, show no financial capability nor similar industrial capacity as China has for a massive global infrastructure building campaign.
The “copycat” image of the G7 meet led by President Biden is dominating image of the summit left behind for the world to mull.
The US, that is Biden’s, call to the seven nation Western alliance for an alliance against China recedes into the background.
Its call to revive the Zombie issue of the virus origin drowned out by the muddling, fudging reply of Biden to a question about it at the G7 press conference unable to pin down specifics and dwelling on hazy “transparency” allegations.
The G7 meet and Biden failed miserably to sustain its cursing against alleged “forced labor” or “genocide” in Xinjiang nor establish any case on Hong Kong’s so-called Human Rights abuses.
China was the single, most important international relations issue of the G7 summit but it spectacularly failed to “Build Back Better” its sagging image of the US and the Western Alliance as a solid and credible entity still relevant to the world as it was at the end of the last century.
Many observers wonder why the US bothered to call the first in-person G7 summit at this time when second and third wave Covid-19 surges are threatening some European countries, when a virtual conference would do just as well.
The inescapable conclusion is that the US and Biden needs the global PR event to prop up its image on the world stage, and reinforce the American charm offensives to shore up lagging confidence among its observer allies particularly in the East, such as India, Japan and South Korea.
But if the west were to catch up, Gyude Moore implies that it may have to change its models. He said “in renegotiating our compact with the US, a constraint analysis has to be done first – a growth diagnostics that tends to answer the question what is the binding constraint to economic growth within a country.”
(Watch his one-hour video China in Africa: An African Perspective and get all the answers you want on how China was successful in so short a time in a continenjt where the west has failed for centuries.)
Here in the Philippines, scant attention is given by the intelligentsia to the G7 summit and it is totally irrelevant to the Filipino masses. The national focus is divided into to three things, the inanities of the presidential electoral preparations, the economic crisis and its Covid-19 root cause.
The solution to the real Philippine crises can no longer be found in the West, and the timely celebration of the 46th Philippine-China Friendship Day reminds us of the “1,000 Years of Friendship, from Bridges to Vaccines”.
For the rest of the world, the G7 and the US is fading into the past as the new realities emerge with the rise of the G20, and the West should better get used to this.
The angst in the West clearly shows in the themes of its various regional conference, such as the Munich Security Conference of 2020 with the theme “Westlessness” and this year “Beyond Westlessness” with the undercurrent of “China, China, China” haunting the gabs.
Herman Tiu Laurel is an author, writer and founder of the Phil-BRICS Strategic Studies think tank. Join his: “Power Thinks” with Ka Mentong Laurel and guests – Every Wednesday 6pm Live on Global Talk News Radio [GTNR] on Facebook and Talk News TV on YouTube; and Every Sunday 8 to 10am on RP1 738 on your AM radio dial.)