One outcome from the recent G7 event was a US-led initiative to throw money at developing world infrastructure projects in a bid to beat China at its own game.

While the US government fact sheet doesn’t explicitly refer to 5G, the WSJ reports the 5G-specific part of the cunning plan known as ‘Build Back Better World’ has been unilaterally added to the agenda by the US. The long and short of it is that the US has belatedly realising that combating bribes with threats doesn’t work and is now working to ‘incentivise’ developing economies around the world to shun Huawei and ZTE kit.

The wonderfully sinister language doesn’t end there. Apparently the US is offering to ‘train’ foreign politicians and regulators to see the world its way and will offer a handy book full of top tips to augment it. “Today President Biden met with G7 leaders to discuss strategic competition with China and commit to concrete actions to help meet the tremendous infrastructure need in low- and middle-income countries,” opens the fact sheet published on 12 June.

The G7 consists of the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. Entry into this smug cabal seems to be determined by a combination of GDP and geopolitics, since it excludes China and Russia as well as India and Brazil. It’s basically where the rich western countries get together to decide how the world should be run.

The communique summarising what was agreed doesn’t use the phrase ‘build back better world’ at all (although it comes up eight times without the ‘world’ bit), further indicating the unilateral nature of the US initiative. The bit that most closely aligns with it is the pledge to ‘strengthen our partnerships’, in other words bend the rest of the world to its will.

It mentions China four times. Three reiterate the usual stuff China will ignore regarding human rights, the origins of Covid, and green stuff. There is one passage, however, which indicates a degree of collective determination to put China in its place. “With regard to China, and competition in the global economy, we will continue to consult on collective approaches to challenging non-market policies and practices which undermine the fair and transparent operation of the global economy,” it says.

Leaving aside the toe-curling spectacle of the G7 leaders (plus a couple from the EU to prevent it sulking) cavorting on a Cornwall beach, this hardening of its collective stance on China seems significant. At the very least this is a great time to be a developing world MNO at the centre of a bribery bidding war between the US and China.


Image from G7 Flickr

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