BRUSSELS – President Biden and other Western leaders on Sunday issued a confrontational statement about the behavior of the Russian and Chinese governments, scourging Beijing for its internal repression, vowing to investigate the origins of the pandemic and condemning Moscow for its use of neurotoxins and cyber weapons .
At the conclusion of the first personal summit since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, heads of state and government sought to present a unified front against a range of threats. But they disagreed on key issues, from the timelines for stopping coal burning to providing tens or hundreds of billions of dollars in aid to challenge Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, China’s foreign investment and lending policy.
Leaving Cornwall, where they met at a resort overlooking rocky outcrops in the far west of England, almost all participants greeted a new tone as they began to fill in the gaps from four years of dealing with Mr Biden’s predecessor Donald J. to repair . Trump card.
“It is great to have a US President who is part of the club and who is very cooperative,” said French President Emmanuel Macron after meeting Mr Biden – praise that many Americans will welcome, but those who are Trumps “Welcoming America First” worldview could be viewed as a betrayal of US interests.
The tone difference was indeed striking: at the last face-to-face meeting of the Group of 7 in Canada in 2018, their final communiqué never mentioned that China and the United States were rejecting any commitment to tackle the climate crisis. Then Mr. Trump withdrew American support from the Assembly’s final statement.
This time around, however, the session had distinct Cold War overtones – a reflection of the growing sense that a declining Russia and an emerging China are forming their own adversary bloc to challenge the West.
The group’s final communiqué called on China to restore the freedoms guaranteed to Hong Kong when the UK returned it to Chinese control and condemned Putin’s “destabilizing behavior and malicious activities”, including electoral interference and “systematic action” against dissidents the media.
It made the West the ideological rival of a growing number of autocracies and offered a democratic alternative that Mr Biden admitted would be more attractive globally.
“Everyone at the table has understood and understood both the seriousness and challenges we face, as well as the responsibility of our proud democracies to get involved and deliver to the rest of the world,” said Mr Biden, returning to what was going to happen This has become the central doctrine of his foreign policy: A struggle between dissonant, often recalcitrant democracies and brutally efficient but repressive autocrats.
Even before the meeting broke up, the Chinese Embassy in London, which had almost overrun the statements of the Group of 7 Nations – USA, Canada, Japan, Germany, Italy, France and Great Britain – delivered a bitter denunciation.
“The days when global decisions were dictated by a small group of countries are long gone,” the Chinese government said in a statement.
China is a member of the larger and more controversial Group of 20 whose member nations will meet in Italy in late October, which could be the first time in more than a decade that Mr Biden has come face to face with President Xi Jinping.
Even when Mr Biden successfully pushed his counterparts to take a more aggressive stance on autocracies, the group failed to reach agreement on key parts of the president’s early foreign policy agenda.
No schedule has been set to end the use of coal to generate electricity, and climate activists said this signaled a lack of determination to tackle one of the world’s leading causes of global warming.
And while the leaders urged China to respect “fundamental freedoms, particularly those relating to Xinjiang,” there was no agreement to ban Western involvement in projects that benefited from forced labor.
Instead, efforts to counter Beijing’s human rights abuses ended with a vague statement that the Allies established a task force to “identify areas for increased cooperation and joint efforts to eliminate the use of all forms of forced labor in global supply chains.”
Mr Biden’s National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, told Air Force One on Sunday evening en route from London to Brussels that the question was, “Can we turn the forced labor and cessation of coal foreign funding commitments into real results by the end of this year ? “
And in order to counter China’s spurt for belt and road development, the G7 leaders pledged to set up another working group to design an infrastructure aid program they called Build Back Better for the World, playing off Mr Biden’s campaign theme.
Mr Biden’s advisors argued that he never expected to convince the Allies to take on his entire agenda. But they said he pushed them into concrete agreements, starting with a minimum corporate tax of 15 percent, to prevent companies from finding the cheapest tax haven to locate their headquarters and operations.
His advisors also cited a commitment to deliver more than a billion doses of vaccines to developing countries by the end of 2022. Half would be from the United States, although Mr Biden told reporters in an aside on Sunday that vaccine distribution vaccine was a “long-term project” and the US could eventually donate another billion doses.
The leaders unanimously pledged to cut their collective emissions in half by 2030, a striking contrast to the statement by the same group three years ago in Charlevoix, Canada, where the United States refused to sign the pledge to fight climate change.
That year, President Trump acceded to the general summit agreement but angrily withdrew his support in a tweet from Air Force One as he left the summit, accusing Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of being “very dishonest and weak”.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference before visiting the Queen at Windsor Castle, Mr. Biden told reporters that he was “satisfied” with the way the joint statement addressed China.
“I think China needs to act more responsibly in terms of international human rights and transparency standards,” said Biden. “Transparency counts across the board.”
Mr. Sullivan said G7 leaders have different views on the “depth of the challenge” from China and how to balance cooperation with the confrontation in dealing with Beijing. He said the discussion would spill over to a meeting of NATO allies on Monday.
The strategy, according to Sullivan, is: “Don’t try to push for confrontation or conflict, but be ready to win allies and partners for fierce competition in the years to come – in the security field”. as in the economic and technological area. “
Regarding Russia, Mr Biden told reporters that in an NBC interview he agreed with Putin’s assessment that Washington-Moscow relations were at a “low point” and pledged to be “very straightforward” during their proposed negotiations with Putin his meeting on Wednesday in Geneva.
Top of the list of concerns for this meeting is the SolarWinds cyberattack, a sophisticated attempt by Russia’s most elite intelligence agency to undermine trust in American computer networks by infiltrating the network management software used by government agencies and most American companies. He is also expected to address Russia’s willingness to harbor criminal groups that carry out ransomware attacks.
But Mr Biden also raised areas for potential compromise, including the provision of food and humanitarian aid to the people of Syria. “Russia has done activities that we believe violate international norms, but it has also bitten off some real problems that are difficult to chew on,” he said.
Mr Biden has shown openness to Mr Putin’s proposal to extradite Russian cybercriminals to the United States on the condition that the Biden government agree to extradite criminals to Russia. But the last time Putin proposed this to President Trump, it turned out that he wanted the United States to send dissidents back and allow the questioning of Michael D. McFaul, the American ambassador to Moscow under President Barack Obama.
On the climate issue, energy experts said the inability of the G7 nations, which collectively cause about a quarter of the world’s climate pollution, to agree on a specific end date for using coal weakens their ability to rely on China to do so curb its own coal consumption.
The Group of 7 promised that by 2022 their nations would end international funding for coal projects that do not include technology to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions. They also promised an “overwhelmingly decarbonized” power sector by the end of the decade. And they promised accelerated efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Even when Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who hosted the meeting, welcomed the summit outcomes, he fought a diplomatic flare-up over Northern Ireland, which was at the center of the tense UK-European Union negotiations over post-Brexit trade rules.
British newspapers reported that Mr Macron suggested to Mr Johnson in a meeting on Saturday that Northern Ireland was not part of the UK. On Sunday, the British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab described the reported statements of the French President as “insulting”.
But Mr Johnson himself tried to downplay the dispute, declined to discuss the exchange at a press conference, and insisted that Northern Ireland had taken very little time during the meeting.
“What I am saying is that we will do everything we can to protect the territorial integrity of the UK,” said Johnson.
Mark Landler, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Lisa Friedman contributed to the coverage.