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G-7 Agrees on Vaccines, China, Taxing  06/13 09:27

   Leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy nations on Sunday pledged more than 1 
billion coronavirus vaccine doses to poorer nations, vowed to help developing 
countries grow their economies while fighting climate change and agreed to 
challenge China's "non-market economic practices" and call out Beijing for 
rights abuses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

   CARBIS BAY, England (AP) -- Leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy nations on 
Sunday pledged more than 1 billion coronavirus vaccine doses to poorer nations, 
vowed to help developing countries grow their economies while fighting climate 
change and agreed to challenge China's "non-market economic practices" and call 
out Beijing for rights abuses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

   Speaking at the end of a G-7 leaders' summit in southwest England, British 
Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the "fantastic degree of harmony" among 
the reenergized group, which met in person for the first time in two years.

   The leaders wanted to show that international cooperation is back after the 
upheavals caused by the pandemic and the unpredictability of former U.S. 
President Donald Trump. And they wanted to convey that the club of wealthy 
democracies -- Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and 
the United States -- is a better friend to poorer nations than authoritarian 
rivals such as China.

   Johnson said the G-7 would demonstrate the value of democracy and human 
rights to the rest of the world and help "the world's poorest countries to 
develop themselves in a way that is clean and green and sustainable."

   "It's not good enough for us to just rest on our laurels and talk about how 
important those values are," he told reporters after the 3-day meeting on the 
Cornwall coast. "And this isn't about imposing our values on the rest of the 
world. What we as the G-7 need to do is demonstrate the benefits of democracy 
and freedom and human rights to the rest of the world."

   But health and environmental campaigners were distinctly unimpressed by the 
details in the leaders' final meeting communique.

   "This G-7 summit will live on in infamy," said Max Lawson, the head of 
inequality policy at the international aid group Oxfam. "Faced with the biggest 
health emergency in a century and a climate catastrophe that is destroying our 
planet, they have completely failed to meet the challenges of our times."

   Despite Johnson's call to "vaccinate the world" by the end of 2022 the 
promise of 1 billion doses for vaccine-hungry countries -- coming both directly 
and through the international COVAX program -- falls far short of the 11 
billion doses the World Health Organization said is needed to vaccinate at 
least 70% of the world's population and truly end the pandemic.

   Half of the billion dose pledge is coming from the United States and 100 
million from Britain.

   The G-7 also backed a minimum tax of at least 15% on large multinational 
companies to stop corporations from using tax havens to avoid taxes.

   The minimum rate was championed by the United States and dovetails with the 
aim of President Joe Biden to focus the summit on ways the democracies can 
support a fairer global economy by working together.

   Biden also wanted to persuade fellow democratic leaders to present a more 
unified front to compete economically with Beijing and strongly call out 
China's "nonmarket policies and human rights abuses."

   In the group's communique published Sunday, the group said: "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."

   The leaders also said they will promote their values by calling on China to 
respect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Xinjiang, where Beijing is 
accused of committing serious human rights abuses against the Uyghur minority, 
and in the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong.

   Johnson, the summit's host, wanted the three-day meeting to fly the flag for 
a "Global Britain," his government's push to give the midsized country outsized 
global influence.

   Yet Brexit cast a shadow over that goal during the summit on the coast of 
southwest England. European Union leaders and U.S. President Joe Biden voiced 
concerns about problems with new U.K.-EU trade rules that have heightened 
tensions in Northern Ireland.

   But overall, the mood was positive: The leaders smiled for the cameras on 
the beach at cliff-fringed Carbis Bay, a village and resort that became a 
traffic-clogged fortress for the meeting. The last G-7 summit was in France in 
2019, with last year's event in the United States scuttled by the pandemic.

   The leaders mingled with Queen Elizabeth II at a royal reception on their 
first evening and were served steak and lobster at a beach barbecue after 
watching an aeronautic display by the Royal Air Force Red Arrows on their 
second.

   America's allies were visibly relieved to have the U.S. back as an engaged 
international player after the "America First" policy of the Trump 
administration.

   "The United States is back, and democracies of the world are standing 
together," Biden said as he arrived in the U.K. on the first foreign trip of 
his 5-month-old presidency. After the G-7 summit, the president will have tea 
with the queen on Sunday, attend a NATO summit in Brussels on Monday and hold 
talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Geneva on Wednesday.

   At the G-7, Johnson described Biden as a "breath of fresh air." French 
President Emmanuel Macron, after speaking one-to-one with Biden, said, "It's 
great to have a U.S. president part of the club and very willing to cooperate."

   The re-energized G-7 made ambitious declarations during their meetings about 
girls' education, preventing future pandemics and financing greener 
infrastructure globally

   On climate change, the "Build Back Better for the World" plan promises to 
offer financing for infrastructure -- "from railways in Africa to wind farms in 
Asia" -- to help speed up the global shift to renewable energy. The plan is a 
response to China's "belt and road" initiative, which has increased Beijing's 
worldwide influence.

   All G-7 countries have pledged to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, 
but many environmentalists say that will be too little, too late.

   Naturalist David Attenborough addressed the leaders by video Sunday, warning 
that humanity is "on the verge of destabilizing the entire planet."

   "If that is so, then the decisions we make this decade -- in particular the 
decisions made by the most economically advanced nations -- are the most 
important in human history," the veteran documentary filmmaker said.

   Large crowds of surfers and kayakers took to the sea in a mass protest 
Saturday to urge better protections for the world's oceans, while thousands 
beat drums as they marched outside the summit's media center in Falmouth.

   "G-7 is all greenwashing," the protesters sang. "We're drowning in promises, 
now's the time to act."

   The communique's language on China was more muted than the United States had 
sought.

   White House officials also said Biden wanted the G-7 leaders to speak in a 
single voice against the forced labor practices targeting China's Uyghur 
Muslims and other ethnic minoritie. Canada, Britain and France largely endorsed 
Biden's position on China, while Germany, Italy and the European Union showed 
more hesitancy, according to two senior Biden administration officials.

 
 
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