Can Biden's 'Build Back Better World Partnership' Really Challenge China?

By Rob Garver

"There is a strategic narrative here about…whether China is the de facto lender of last resort going forward," said AS/COA's Eric Farnsworth to VOA.

The announcement over the weekend that the G-7 would throw its weight behind a U.S.-led proposal to create an alternative to China's eight-year-old Belt and Road Initiative was met with cautious optimism by international development experts.

The experts welcomed the focus on helping low- and moderate-income nations develop needed infrastructure but had many questions about how it would be implemented that defied immediate explanation…

"I think it's really positive that the G-7 countries recognize the issue and recognize a need to react," said Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. "There are real needs out there that need to be met. And folks in emerging markets and elsewhere, as well, if they don't see solutions coming from the democracies, are looking for a solution wherever they can get one. And China, of course, has a lot of money."

To be successful, the B3W initiative, as the Biden administration is calling it, will require sustained effort from all the countries involved, Farnsworth said. The G-7 is made up of wealthy, highly industrialized nations, including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the U.S…

According to Farnsworth of the Americas Society, the Build Back Better World Partnership has at the very least a chance to reassert the position of democratic nations as the best alternative for developing nations going forward. 

That is, he said, if Biden and other leaders can frame it as a strategic benefit for their various constituencies to take a global leadership role as the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than leaving China to help developing countries pick up the pieces. 

"This isn't just a matter now of finance and debt repayments and things like that, but there is a strategic narrative here about whether the West can respond, or whether China is the de facto lender of last resort going forward," Farnsworth said…

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