Global China Inc. Tracker.
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MERICS Global China Inc. Tracker

No. 2, June 2021

Focus topic: Competing with China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

Unveiled at the G7 summit last weekend (June 11-13), the “Build Back Better World” (B3W) partnership has been framed by President Joe Biden as an alternative, democratic infrastructure initiative to China’s BRI.

For now, the initiative remains largely rhetoric, with the only concrete action being the creation of a taskforce that will “develop practical proposals” and report back to the heads of government in autumn. Reference to the BRI is missing from the G7 communiqué,2  but in his closing remarks at the G7 summit, President Joe Biden made the comparison clear. “China has its Belt and Road Initiative,” Biden said, “and we think there’s a much more equitable way to provide for the needs of countries around the world.”3

Of course, addressing the global infrastructure deficit in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic is a worthy and necessary goal, but how exactly does this relate to the BRI?

Given the increasingly tense relationship with China, the reasons for competing with the BRI would appear self-explanatory, but the logic of competition is not so straightforward, especially given that the sprawling BRI is poorly defined.

In this edition’s focus topic, we look at existing strategies on competing with the BRI in the EU and United States and ask several questions about the logic of competing with the BRI.