China, G77 developing nations hold environmental meeting in Cuba

Group of 77 meeting of environmental ministers was held in Havana

The Group of 77 developing countries and China held a ministerial meeting in Cuba on Tuesday to discuss environmental issues, as the socialist Caribbean nation seeks to lead like-minded countries in standing up against the U.S. government.

Cuban Deputy Prime Minister Ines Maria Chapman said environmental ministers from 24 G77 countries attended the meeting in Havana, Cuba’s capital, discussing sustainable development and technological countermeasures against climate change.

The G77 was formed in 1964 at the first session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development by countries in Asia, Africa and Central and South America that share common challenges. Initially launched with 77 nations, the bloc now has more than 130 members.

China maintains that it is not a G77 member, despite being listed as one by the bloc, but Beijing says it has supported the group’s legitimate claims and maintained cooperative relations.

Cuba is the G77 chair for 2023. President Miguel Diaz-Canel said in June that a G77 plus China summit will be held in September, but it remains unclear which countries will participate.

U.S. economic sanctions against neighboring Cuba were tightened under then-President Donald Trump, a hard-line stance that current President Joe Biden has not changed. Cuba aims to use its position as chair to show solidarity among developing countries and oppose the American government.

Chapman criticized Washington and called for G77 unity in comments reported by Cuban Communist Party newspaper Granma on Tuesday. If there were no U.S. trade embargo, she said, Cuba could cooperate in international development more easily, particularly with developing countries. The embargo prevents American businesses from trading with Cuban interests.

It is unclear whether Cuba’s calls for unity against the U.S. will be answered. The Tuesday environmental meeting in Havana was attended by a relatively small handful of G77 members. Developing countries that value a relationship with the U.S. may hesitate to join the September summit.

Frameworks newer than the historically significant G77 might have more momentum. India hosted the Voice of the Global South summit in January and seeks a leading role among emerging economies.

Still, links between China and Cuba leave Washington nervous. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in June that Beijing had bolstered an intelligence-gathering base in Cuba in 2019. China and Cuba immediately denied the allegations.

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