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CARBIS BAY, England — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson greeted world leaders on a wooden boardwalk on the freshly raked sand of Carbis Bay to open the Group of Seven summit Friday, offering elbow bumps to dignitaries gathering for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The virus was set to dominate their discussions, with leaders of the wealthy democracies club expected to commit to sharing at least 1 billion vaccine shots with struggling countries.

A commitment from U.S. President Joe Biden to share 500 million doses and one from Johnson for another 100 million shots set the stage for the G-7 meeting under gray and moody skies in southwest England, where leaders will pivot Friday from their “family photo” by the seaside directly into a session on “Building Back Better From COVID-19.”

“We’re going to help lead the world out of this pandemic working alongside our global partners,” Biden said. The G-7 also includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

The leaders hope the meeting in the resort of Carbis Bay will also energize the global economy. On Friday, they are set to formally embrace a global minimum tax of at least 15% on corporations, following an agreement reached a week ago by their finance ministers. The minimum is meant to stop companies from using tax havens and other tools to avoid taxes.

It represents a potential win for the Biden administration, which has proposed a global minimum tax as a way to pay for infrastructure projects, in addition to creating an alternative that could remove some European countries’ digital services taxes that largely hit U.S. tech firms. But the endorsement from the G-7 is just one step in the process; the hope is to get many more countries to sign on, and that could be particularly difficult in nations that depend on a low corporate tax base to survive.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi, European Council President Charles Michel and German Chancellor Angela Merkel pose for a family photo as they attend an EU coordination meeting at the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, Britain, June 11, 2021. REUTERS

For Johnson, the first G-7 summit in two years — last year’s was scuttled by the pandemic — is a chance to set out his vision of a post-Brexit “Global Britain” as a midsized country with an outsized role in international problem-solving.

It’s also an opportunity to underscore the U.K-U.S. bond, an alliance often called the “special relationship” — but that Johnson said he prefers to call the “indestructible relationship.”

Climate change is also a top issue on the agenda, and hundreds of protesters gathered in Cornwall to urge the leaders to take action. Some activists sent a barge floating off the coast that was carrying large inflatable figures depicting Biden and Johnson. At one protest, demonstrators carried flags that read “G7 drowning in promises” and “Action not words.”

The official summit business kicked off Friday, with the customary formal greeting and a socially distanced group photo. Later the leaders will meet Queen Elizabeth II and other senior royals at the Eden Project, a lush, domed eco-tourism site built in a former quarry.

The G-7 leaders have faced mounting pressure to outline their global vaccine-sharing plans, especially as inequities in supply around the world have become more pronounced. In the U.S., there is a large vaccine stockpile and the demand for shots has dropped precipitously in recent weeks.

Biden said the U.S. will donate 500 million COVID-19 vaccine doses and previewed a coordinated effort by the advanced economies to make vaccination widely and speedily available everywhere. The commitment was on top of 80 million doses Biden has already pledged to donate by the end of June.

Johnson, for his part, said the first 5 million U.K. doses would be shared in the coming weeks, with the remainder coming over the next year. He said he expected the G-7 to commit to 1 billion doses in all.

Boris Johnson, Britain’s Prime Minster, gestures to US President Joe Biden, right, as they look at the Atlantic charter during their bilateral meeting in Carbis Bay, Britain, 10 June 2021.EPA

“At the G-7 Summit I hope my fellow leaders will make similar pledges so that, together, we can vaccinate the world by the end of next year and build back better from coronavirus,” Johnson said in a statement, referencing a slogan that he and Biden have both used.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she hoped the summit would show the world “we’re not just thinking of ourselves,” while French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed the U.S. commitment and said Europe should do the same. He said France would share at least 30 million doses globally by year’s end; Germany is also planning on donating that amount.

The U.S. commitment is to buy and donate 500 million Pfizer doses for distribution through the global COVAX alliance to 92 lower-income countries and the African Union, bringing the first steady supply of mRNA vaccine to the countries that need it most.

Biden said the U.S.-manufactured doses will be shipped starting in August, with the goal of distributing 200 million by the end of the year. The remaining 300 million doses would be shipped in the first half of 2022. A price tag for the doses was not released, but the U.S. is now set to be COVAX’s largest vaccine donor in addition to its single largest funder with a $4 billion commitment.

Humanitarian workers welcomed the donation — but said the world needs more doses and they were hoping they would arrive sooner. Grand statements and promises need to be met with detailed plans backed by timelines for delivery, starting immediately.

Frozen vials of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are taken out to thaw, at the MontLegia CHC hospital in Liege, Belgium.AP

“If we have a stop-start supply or if we store all the supply up for the end of the year, it’s very hard for low-income countries with quite fragile health care systems to then really be able to get those vaccines off the tarmac and into the arms of health care workers,” said Lily Caprani, the head of COVID-19 vaccine advocacy at UNICEF. “We want a coordinated, time-bound, ambitious commitment starting from June and charting the course for the rest of the year.”

The global COVAX alliance has faced a slow start to its vaccination campaign, as richer nations have locked up billions of doses through contracts directly with drug manufacturers. The alliance has distributed just 81 million doses globally and parts of the world, particularly in Africa, remain vaccine deserts.

So far, among the G-7 countries, only France has begun shipping vaccines through COVAX, according one of the initiative’s leaders, vaccine alliance Gavi. France has delivered a total of 628,800 doses to seven African countries — with Senegal, a former French colony, receiving about 30% of that total.

Biden said Thursday that some of the 80 million doses the U.S. had previously committed to donating — some of them outside of COVAX — were already shipping. The U.S. has also given a few million vaccines to neighbors Mexico and Canada.

White House officials said the ramped-up distribution program fits a theme Biden plans to hit frequently during his week in Europe: that Western democracies, and not authoritarian states, can deliver the most good for the world.

China and Russia have shared their domestically produced vaccines with some needy countries, often with hidden strings attached. U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Biden “does want to show — rallying the rest of the world’s democracies — that democracies are the countries that can best deliver solutions for people everywhere.”

The first 10,530 doses of BioNTech-Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine arrive at Sarajevo Airport to Bosnia and Herzegovina, provided by the European Union, in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 04 May 2021. EPA Filed under Coronavirus ,  COVID vaccine ,  england ,  G7 Summit ,  vaccination ,  6/11/21

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Commentary: Chinas COVID Coup

by Conrad Black


It is time for Americans to contemplate the possibility that the United States may be surpassed as the world’s most influential country. The Chinese have just won the greatest strategic victory in the last 30 years since the disintegration of the Soviet Union. However it originated, the novel coronavirus was repressed within China by recourse to draconian measures but was deliberately permitted to infect the rest of the world, enabling China to exploit the blunderbuss Western lockdowns and make a giant leap towards economic preeminence in the world.

This push toward Chinese economic preeminence was something widely predicted prior to the Trump era but clearly was not happening in the first three years of the Trump presidency, as unemployment nearly vanished in the United States, illegal immigration was almost completely stopped, and American economic growth soared, generated by an increasing workforce and sharp gains among the lowest 20 percent of income earners. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic almost 16 months ago, however, the United States and the West generally have suffered a severe economic slowdown, vast increases in the money supply, and an epochal spike in unemployment.

Assuming the SARS-CoV-2 virus escaped accidentally, China must be credited for a remarkable coup of strategic improvisation in translating a public health crisis into a large economical and geopolitical advance at the expense of the West. The American indulgence in an entire summer of white-hating, statue-toppling, rioting, and denigration of American history, freedom, and values astonished the world. Moreover, it helped China propagate its message that democracy leads to chaos and waste and that the United States is an unreliable and unstable country. This argument is assisted by what appears to be the practice of the Biden regime of declaring American moral shortcomings to the world as Secretary of State Antony Blinken did in his unfortunate encounter with the Chinese foreign minister at Anchorage three months ago.

The Biden regime is sustained by a helter-skelter coalition of elements that are not much interested in America’s retention of its status as the world’s most important country and are explicitly critical of many of the policies that have conferred that status on us. Most conspicuous are the far-Left “squad,” the Sanders socialists, and the militant elements of Black Lives Matter. Though it has lost a significant share of its formerly almost air-tight support from the African-American community, much of what is left of that continues to be outspokenly aggrieved against white America and is threatening a return to violence if drastic concessions, such as vastly expensive reparations and other acts amounting to confessions of guilt by the white majority are not made.

No country in the history of the world has made such a prodigious effort to make up for the injustices of the past as America has done with respect to blacks. Martin Luther King, Jr. adopted from Gandhi the principle of nonviolent protest against the oppressions of conscientious people. Gandhi knew the British would not intentionally massacre large numbers of Indians seeking independence, a threshold that Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia would have crossed without hesitation. Gandhi rightly recognized that the British would not suppress by force a nonviolent movement reasonably demanding independence. King knew that if American blacks simply rose in revolt, as they were only 11 percent of the country, they would be suppressed; but that if they peacefully demanded recognition of their constitutional rights as citizens, the American majority would eventually concede those rights.

Now that the equality of opportunity King sought has substantially been achieved, the demands of the more militant African-American organizations have escalated: their spokesmen threaten violence without vast new concessions. Exorbitant demands are made because of the alleged abuse of “white privilege.” The possibility that the great prominence of white people in America and in world history could be substantially meritocratic does not arise in the minds of those who decry it, and white people themselves are just starting to suggest that the national orgy of self-abasement is becoming unjust and even dangerous.

National self-loathing rules the American academy and most of the school system and is at the root of the troubling fact that, as Western society has consecrated greater and greater resources to education in the past 50 years, it has produced a steadily stupider crop of graduates. This unfortunate phenomenon has produced more destructive and less professionally rigorous media and declining standards of public entertainment.

The American Left has become almost entirely a loudspeaker for national self-hate, and its recipe for reform is little more than the abasement of the white majority. Even as the Chinese challenge becomes stronger economically, more overtly dismissive of America and the West, more brazen in suppressing guaranteed freedoms in Hong Kong and oppressing Uighurs and other minorities and all religions within the People’s Republic, and threatens Taiwan militarily, the American Left is still chiefly focused on what far-Left spokesman and former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich calls “our drift towards proto-fascism.”

The Left has worked itself up into such a paroxysm of hatred of Donald Trump, who is naturally at the head of all those who recognize and wish to counter the Chinese challengethat it is going to be a time-consuming process to develop a bipartisan consensus to defend America’s status and strategic interests throughout the world.

America’s European allies will be completely worthless in meeting the Chinese challenge, until they finally grasp the implications of the world not being primarily influenced by Judeo-Christian values that recognize individual rights and dignity, the Democratic process, the free-market economy (not just state capitalism), and the preeminence in the world of the Western languages and, broadly, the civilization of the West. By the time the gravity of the crisis of the West is grasped thoroughly, if the past is any guide, Europe will be divided between the appeasers and the Atlanticists.

The powers closer to China are naturally more conversant with the vagaries and dangers of China’s definition of its self-interest. The Japanese, Indians, South Koreans, Vietnamese, Australians, and others will respond much more vigorously than the Europeans to signs of American leadership against the overbearing aspects of the Chinese challenge.

So far, the Biden Administration’s desire to discuss climate change with China must rank as one of the most absurdly esoteric foreign policy considerations in living memory, as well as a godsend to the People’s Republic. They think the concept is bunk and could not be more delighted at the economic penalties the West is imposing upon itself in trying to move to what is mistakenly described as sustainable energy.

Fundamentally, the United States is a much stronger country than China and, if it comes to its senses quickly enough, it will more than meet this challenge. China has a dangerously aging population, no institutions of any integrity or value whatsoever, and a system that is still 40 percent a command economy. Every day, the Chinese betray the arrogance of their official nature. If the West wakes up soon enough, the Chinese challenge will be much easier to meet than was Nazi Germany or even the Soviet Union.

Unfortunately, the closest we have to recognizably intelligent thinking on the subject within the administration has as its end, finally, to drive Russia into the arms of China. Russia’s only real threat to the United States is if it enables China to use its surplus population to develop Siberia and make up for China’s own lack of natural resources. Innocuous massaging of Russia’s bruised post-Cold War ego, as long as it does not become too indulgent of Russia’s own expansionist ambitions, could be useful. We want Russia as a Western and not an Eastern country and the erosion of the Democrats’ Russo-hysteria is the first good sign we have seen from the Biden State Department.

– – –

Conrad Black has been one of Canada’s most prominent financiers for 40 years, and was one of the leading newspaper publishers in the world as owner of the British telegraph newspapers, the Fairfax newspapers in Australia, the Jerusalem Post, Chicago Sun-Times and scores of smaller newspapers in the U.S., and most of the daily newspapers in Canada. He is the author of authoritative biographies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, one-volume histories of the United States and Canada, and most recently of Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other. He is a member of the British House of Lords as Lord Black of Crossharbour.
Photo “Xi Jinping” by Palácio do Planalto CC BY-SA 4.0.







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