Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Canada’s most-awarded
newsroom for a reason
Stay informed for a
lot less, cancel anytime
“Exemplary reporting on
COVID-19” – Herman L
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, European Council President Charles Michel, U.S. President Joe Biden, Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi, French President Emmanuel Macron, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Britain, June 11, 2021.

POOL/Reuters

The G7 summit that opened Friday has a dauntingly wide agenda, ranging from vaccinating the world and restarting the global economy to promoting democracy. At the centre of each of those issues is the increasingly loud question of how Western leaders should deal with China.

Whatever message to Beijing is delivered by G7 leaders this weekend will likely be a compromise between U.S. President Joe Biden, who is hoping to rally the world’s democracies against what he sees as the threat posed by countries like China and Russia, and European leaders. The latter broadly agree with taking a tougher line towards Moscow, but see co-operation with China as key to pulling their economies out of pandemic-induced recessions.

Story continues below advertisement

China was a topic at several side meetings on Friday, including a bilateral conversation between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau ahead of the formal opening of the summit. Canada’s High Commissioner to Britain, Ralph Goodale, told The Globe and Mail that he expected the G7 would make some kind of statement relating to China’s ongoing detention of Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. “We appreciate very much the solidarity shown by our G7 colleagues in standing with Canada,” Mr. Goodale said.

Opinion: After a me-first pandemic, G7 leaders feel the need for some defensive globalism

Canada only G7 country that hasn’t committed to sharing excess vaccine supply

Joe Biden and Boris Johnson meet ahead of G7 summit, reaffirm trans-Atlantic alliance

The main outcome from the weekend summit in the English resort of Carbis Bay is expected to be a commitment to provide one billion vaccine doses to countries that have been struggling to inoculate their populations against COVID-19. G7 leaders haven’t been shy about saying that their willingness to share their countries’ vaccine wealth is in part a response to China’s efforts to extract geopolitical gains from doing the same.

On Friday, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said there was “no doubt” that China and Russia were using their domestically produced vaccines to gain influence around the world. China has been accused of refusing to share its vaccines with countries like Honduras and Guatemala that recognize Taiwan, while Russia has expanded its clout in the Balkans by distributing its Sputnik V vaccine there.

U.S. President Joe Biden was similarly blunt in explaining that the U.S.’s own donation of 500 million doses would be fundamentally different from the “vaccine diplomacy” practised by Beijing and Moscow. “The United States is providing these half [billion] doses with no strings attached. Let me say it again: with no strings attached,” he said Thursday after a meeting with Mr. Johnson. “Our vaccine donations don’t include pressure for favours or potential concessions.”

Another key outcome from the summit is expected to be the announcement of some kind of international infrastructure project – reportedly to be named the “Clean Green Initiative” – that would again seek to rival something China is already doing, through its mammoth Belt and Road Initiative. That program has already has seen Beijing go on a controversial lending splurge that is funding building projects in some 100 countries. Winnie King, a senior lecturer in East Asian studies and international political economy at the University of Bristol, said the G7 infrastructure push “is directly to try and, for lack of a better word, challenge China’s Belt and Road Initiative.”

Prof. King said the G7′s intentions towards China could be seen in the list of non-G7 countries that had been invited to Carbis Bay: Australia, South Korea, India and South Africa. “The first three are main partners in what the Americans and Brits look at as their Indo-Pacific strategy. All three are partners in the effort to contain China.”

A leaked draft of the final statement from Carbis Bay suggests the G7 will also call for a new investigation – “free from interference” – into the origins of COVID-19. The wording, if it’s adopted by the leaders this weekend, will anger Beijing, which has carefully managed expert access to the Wuhan region, where the coronavirus was first detected in late 2019.

Story continues below advertisement

Yu Jie, a senior research fellow on China at the London-based Chatham House, said the G7′s focus on China was plain at last month’s foreign ministers’ meeting, which ended with a large section of a joint communiqué devoted to China or issues related to it. The statement condemned human rights abuses in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong, and called on China to “participate constructively in the rules-based international system” and to “act responsibly in cyber space.”

“The previous meeting set the tone: that liberal democracies have to join together to deal with this huge entity that is politically so apart, but economically thriving,” Ms. Yu said. She said Beijing would ignore the request for a new investigation into the origins of COVID-19. “It’s just another grievance added to a very long list.”

But talk of rebranding the G7 as a “D10” grouping of democracies by inviting India, Australia and South Korea to join has been muted over European concerns about creating what might look like an anti-Beijing alliance (as well as Japanese opposition to including South Korea, a historic rival). The Australian and South Korean leaders arrived in Carbis Bay on Friday and will join the second half of the summit as observers, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi – whose country is in the throes of a deadly third wave of the pandemic – will attend virtually.

The lack of a formal launch this year of a D10 will be to the dismay of Mr. Biden and Mr. Johnson, who drove the idea. Ash Jain, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council think tank, said that while the U.S., U.K. and Canada may be inclined to support the idea of a D10 grouping in some form that would bring together key Atlantic and Pacific allies, the other four G7 members seem to have  qualms. “Where this is headed is the G7 will stay in its current form, but there may be an attempt to bring along a D10 that operates in parallel,” Mr. Jain said.

In an editorial this week, the Global Times newspaper – which is affiliated with a hawkish wing of China’s ruling Communist Party – predicted Mr. Biden would fail in his efforts to rally Western democracies against Beijing. “European big powers… are aware that strengthening economic co-operation with China helps them revive their competitiveness. They don’t want political conflicts with China to extend to trade and economy,” read the editorial, which was headlined “Biden to gain little from ‘geopolitical feast’ in Europe.”

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies