The G7 leaders displayed a united front as the summit ended, but cracks are visible


BRUSSELS (Reuters) – President Biden and his Western colleagues made a clashing proclamation over the behavior of the Russian and Chinese governments on Sunday, criticizing Beijing for its domestic repression, vowing to investigate the origins of the pandemic, and criticizing Moscow for its use of nerve agents and electronic weapons.

Conclusion First summit meeting in person Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, leaders have tried to put together a united front against a range of threats. But they differed on critical issues, from timelines to stop burning coal to allocating tens or hundreds of billions of dollars in aid to challenge Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, Chinese foreign investment, and pushing lending.

However, when they left Cornwall, where they met at a resort overlooking rocky outcrops in the far west of England, nearly all participants welcomed a new tone as they began mending breaches from four years of dealing with Biden’s predecessor, Donald J. . trump card.

French President Emmanuel Macron said after meeting Mr. Biden: “It’s great to have an American president who is part of the club and so willing to cooperate. A worldview might be seen as a betrayal of the interests of the United States.”

The difference in tone was truly astonishing: The last time the Group of Seven met in person, in Canada in 2018, its final statement never mentioned that China and the United States broke all commitments to address the climate crisis. Then Mr. Trump withdrew US support From the closing statement of the meeting.

But this time, the session had clear Cold War overtones – a reflection of the deep sense that a declining Russia and a rising China form their own hostile bloc to challenge the West.

The group’s final statement called on China to restore the freedoms guaranteed to Hong Kong when Britain returned it to Chinese control, and condemned Putin’s “destabilizing behavior and malign activities”, including election interference and “systematic repression” of dissidents and media.

It portrayed the West as an ideological rival to a growing number of authoritarian regimes, and offered a democratic alternative that Biden acknowledged they had to prove would be more attractive worldwide.

“Everyone sitting around the table understood and understood the seriousness and challenges we face and our democracies proud responsibility to advance and present them to the rest of the world,” Biden said, returning to what has become the central tenet of his foreign policy: a struggle between discordant and often undisciplined democracies and competent and oppressive autocrats.

Even before the meeting ended, the Chinese Embassy in London, which almost trolled the statements of the Group of Seven – the United States, Canada, Japan, Germany, Italy, France and the United Kingdom – drew a bitter condemnation.

“Gone are the days when global decisions were dictated by a small group of countries,” the Chinese government said in a statement.

China is a member of the largest and most controversial of the G-20, whose member states will meet in Italy in late October, which could be the first time in more than a decade that Biden has sat face to face with President Xi Jinping.

Even as Mr. Biden succeeded in getting his peers to adopt a more aggressive stance against authoritarian regimes, the group failed to reach agreement on key parts of the president’s early foreign policy agenda.

It has not settled on a timetable to eliminate the use of coal for electric power, and climate activists said that indicates a lack of determination to tackle one of the major causes of global warming.

And while leaders called on China to respect “fundamental freedoms, especially with regard to Xinjiang,” there was no agreement to ban Western participation in projects that benefit from forced labor.

Instead, efforts to confront human rights abuses in Beijing ended with a vague declaration that allies were forming a working group “to identify areas for enhanced cooperation and collective efforts toward eliminating the use of all forms of forced labor in global supply chains.”

Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said on Air Force One on his way from London to Brussels Sunday night that the question was: “Can we turn commitments on forced labor and ending external financing for coal into real results by the end of this year?”

To counter China’s push to develop the Belt and Road, G7 leaders pledged to create another working group to design an infrastructure assistance program they called ‘Building Back Better for the World’, taking advantage of Mr. Biden’s campaign theme.

Biden’s aides said he never expected to persuade allies to fully embrace his agenda. But they said it pushed them toward concrete agreements, beginning with a 15 percent minimum corporate tax, to prevent companies from looking for the cheapest tax haven to locate their headquarters and operations.

His aides also noted a commitment to provide more than 1 billion doses of vaccines to the developing world by the end of 2022. Half of them will come from the United States, although Mr. Biden told reporters on Sunday that distributing vaccines would be a “long-standing project” and the United States could Finally donating another billion doses.

The leaders unanimously promised to halve their collective emissions by 2030, in stark contrast to a statement issued by the same group three years ago in Charlevoix, Canada, where the United States refused to sign its pledge to combat climate change.

That year, President Trump joined the Comprehensive Summit Agreement, but angrily withdrew his support in a tweet from Air Force One as he left the summit, accusing Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of being “very dishonest and weak.”

Speaking to reporters at a press conference before his visit to the Queen at Windsor Castle, Biden told reporters he was “satisfied” with the way the joint statement addressed China.

“I think China should start to act more responsibly in terms of international standards of human rights and transparency,” Mr. Biden said. “Transparency is important across the board.”

Mr. Sullivan said G7 leaders had divergent views on the “depth of the challenge” from China and how to calibrate cooperation with confrontation in dealing with Beijing. He said the discussion would turn into a meeting of NATO allies on Monday.

The strategy, Mr. Sullivan said, is “not to try to push for confrontation or conflict, but be prepared to try to rally allies and partners toward what will be fierce competition in the coming years — and that is in the security realm as well as in the economic and technological realms.”

On Russia, Biden told reporters he agreed with Mr. Putin’s assessment, in an interview with NBC, that relations between Washington and Moscow were at a “low point”, and committed to being “very direct” with Mr. Putin during the planning period. On Wednesday in Geneva.

Heading the list of concerns for this meeting is the SolarWinds cyber attack, a sophisticated effort by Russia’s most elite intelligence agency to undermine trust in US computer networks by infiltrating network management software used by government agencies and most US companies. He is also expected to endorse Russia’s willingness to harbor criminal groups that carry out ransomware attacks.

But Mr. Biden has also raised areas of potential settlement, including providing food and humanitarian aid to people in Syria. “Russia has engaged in activities that we believe go against international norms, but it has also taken out some real problems that they will have a hard time chewing,” he said.

Mr. Biden indicated his openness to Mr. Putin’s proposal to extradite Russian cybercriminals to the United States, on the condition that the Biden administration agree to extradite the criminals to Russia. But the last time Putin suggested it – to President Trump – it turns out he wants the US to bring back the defectors and allow the questioning of Michael D. McFaul, the US ambassador to Moscow under President Barack Obama.

On climate, energy experts said the inability of G7 nations, which collectively produce about a quarter of the world’s climate pollution, to agree on a specific end date for coal use weakens their ability to rely on China to limit its coal use.

The G7 has promised that by 2022 their countries will end international financing for coal projects that do not include technology to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions. They also promised a “largely decarbonized” electricity sector by the end of the decade. They promised to make accelerated efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Even as Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the meeting’s host, praised the outcome of the summit, he was waging a diplomatic escalation over Northern Ireland, which has been at the center of tense negotiations between Britain and the European Union over post-Brexit trade rules. .

British newspapers reported that Macron suggested to Mr Johnson in a meeting on Saturday that Northern Ireland is not part of the United Kingdom. On Sunday, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called the French president’s reported comments “offensive”.

But Mr Johnson himself tried to downplay the dispute, refusing at a news conference to discuss the exchange and insisting that Northern Ireland took up little of the leaders’ time during the meeting.

“What I am saying is that we will do whatever is necessary to protect the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom,” Johnson said.

Mark Landler, Zolan Kanu-Youngs, and Lisa Friedman contributed to the report.

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