COVID’s ‘roots,’ China, protests at sea, beach BBQ: What’s happening on Day 2 of the G-7 summit

FALMOUTH, England – Back from their dinner with the queen, President Joe Biden and other leaders of some of the world’s wealthiest nations return to work Saturday with a focus on the economy, foreign policy and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Saturday will be Day Two of the Group of Seven summit in Cornwall, England. The gathering is the leaders’ first in-person meeting since the start of the coronavirus crisis, and much of the discussions have focused on what British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called “the most wretched pandemic the world has faced for at least our lifetimes.”

Leaders are expected to commit to using all of their resources to preventing a global pandemic from ever happening again.

Here’s what’s on their agenda for Saturday:

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President Joe Biden and France's President Emmanuel Macron share a light moment before the family photo at the start of the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, England. (Photo: Ludovic Marin, AFP via Getty Images)

‘Roots’ of the pandemic

A session on health policy will focus on addressing the root causes of the COVID-19 pandemic on a global level. G-7 leaders will be joined at that discussion by their counterparts from South Korea, South Africa, Australia and India, the secretary general of the United Nations and other leaders of international organizations.

The leaders are expected to issue a statement setting out a series of concrete commitments to prevent any repeat of the human and economic devastation wreaked by coronavirus. 

They’ll also receive a presentation by Sir Patrick Vallance, a British physician and scientist, and Melinda Gates, an American philanthropist, on the work of the Pandemic Preparedness Partnership.

The partnership includes international experts from industry, government and scientific institutions and was established earlier this year by the U.K. to advise the G-7 on how to prevent and respond to future pandemics. One of its aims will be to be able to develop vaccines in under 100 days. The partnership is set to publish its report on Saturday. 

Other sessions at the summit will look at economic resilience and foreign policy.

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US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met for the first time Thursday ahead of the G7 summit in England. Biden hopes to reassure European allies the U.S. is a reliable partner again. (June 10)

AP Domestic

China and the West

The White House says it is not seeking to make China the “overriding issue” while Biden is in Europe. But Beijing’s economic development model, its human rights record in Xinjiang, and its lack of transparency on a range of issues from the environment to labor standards will dominate discussions Saturday. 

G-7 leaders will announce a new global infrastructure initiative called, “Build Back Better for the World.” It is being framed as an alternative to China’s “Belt and Road Initiative,” a massive multi-trillion dollar development project than spans dozens of countries and whose overall idea is to update and reinvent the ancient Silk Road that connected China to Europe and beyond. China has been helping finance, often through predatory loans, international railways, highways, ports and other major infrastructure as part of its initiative. 

“This is about providing an affirmative, positive, alternative vision for the world than that that is presented by China,” the White House said of its plan. 

On Monday, Biden will travel to Brussels for meeting of the NATO military alliance and for the first time NATO countries will be address the security challenge from China directly in a communiqué, according to the White House. 

Arms around the world, and each other

Biden wrapped his arm around French President Emmanuel Macron as they chatted amiably on the sidelines of the summit on Friday. And Macron returned the favor, reflecting what appears to be a warm and friendly relationship between the leaders.

On Saturday, Biden and Macron will be given a more formal opportunity to rekindle their apparent flourishing bromance as they meet for a bilateral meeting.

Among the topics likely to come up: counterterrorism in Africa, and ongoing negotiations between the European Union and the U.K. over Brexit – specifically, how to break an impasse over what to do with the post-Brexit border between Ireland (part of EU) and Northern Ireland (part of U.K.). The lack of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland helped facilitate the Good Friday peace agreement in Northern Ireland.    

U.S.-France relations seem to be in a good place (Photo: AP)

Protests on land and sea

Protesters aiming to disrupt the three-day summit have been out in full force. Hundreds of demonstrators blocked roads and marched through the streets on Friday as the climate activist group Extinction Rebellion mounted a protest against what it said was the G-7 nations’ failure to respect global climate commitments made in Paris in 2015.

On Saturday, the protesters will head out to sea, among other protest actions. 

An environmental group called Surfers Against Sewage is staging a protest off of Gyllyngvase Beach in Falmouth. Surfers are expected to grab surfboards, kayaks, snorkles and other gear and head out on the water to call attention to threats to the oceans and climate. The group is hoping more than 1,000 surfers will take part in the protest.

Extinction Rebellion is organizing a soccer game between fans and environmentalists. But the match, which takes place Saturday a day after the UEFA Euro soccer championship kicked off across Europe, comes with a twist: the referee is a banker. 

“The games are rigged to illustrate how corporate greed and finance are a corrupting influence not only in (soccer) but, more significantly, in climate policy,” a statement released by the event’s organizers said. 

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President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden greet Queen Elizabeth II of Britain at a reception for G-7 leaders at the Eden Project in Cornwall, England. (Photo: Jack Hill, AP)

Beach barbecue

How do you follow dinner with the queen?

With a beach barbecue, no less.

Friday night, the G-7 leaders and their families dined with Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the Royal Family on spiced melon, turbot roasted on the bone and English strawberry pavlova. Tonight’s dinner promises to be a less formal affair.

Carrie Johnson, wife of Boris Johnson, is hosting a barbecue at Carbis Bay beach for the leaders and their families. The dinner fare will include scallops, Curgurrell crab claws and Portscatho mackerel, followed by sirloin and Newlyn lobster. Afterward, the VIPs will be offered baked brie, hot buttered rum and toasted marshmallows around firepits on the sand. And to drink (it is, after all, the queen’s official birthday): Cornish sparkling wine, German Riesling, Australian Shiraz, Cornish beer and hedge row fizz cocktail.

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