The European Commission has today adopted a new strategy to establish links between Europe and Asia, than actually "threw down the gauntlet" to China and the initiative of "One belt and one road", writes Euractiv.
Given the speed of China's economic growth over the past 30 years, the EU has belatedly acknowledged the growing power and influence of Beijing. China not only became a trading giant, he owns one of the largest currency reserves in the world and is an increasingly important foreign investor in the world, including Europe.
Recently, however, China's actions have begun to cause concern among European politicians. China refused to limit the dominant role of their state companies, then the European Union denied him the status of a market economy, and the Chinese interest in European technologies led to the suggestion to pay more attention to the investment of China in Europe.
But of particular concern in Brussels and Washington, Delhi and other capitals have caused large-scale Chinese investment in European infrastructure on the initiative of "One belt and one road". This spring, the EU ambassadors in China, said the initiative is harmful to the economy, society and environment, and also criticized China for discrimination of foreign entrepreneurs, non-transparent bidding process and limited access to European businessmen in the country.
China's actions in the EU and its neighbouring countries also raised questions. In 2014, Montenegro signed with Exim Bank of China agreement to Finance 85% of project cost of construction of the railway, whose total cost is estimated at about 25% of GDP. Many believe that it can result in debt defaults, then the vital infrastructure will become the property of China.
Not gone unnoticed and the fact that China is fully or partially acquired ports in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Greece. In other words, China is buying freely critical infrastructure in Europe, while direct European investment in China is declining.
China's investment in Europe has brought him political dividends: some EU countries have blocked resolutions condemning human rights violations in China or criticizing the actions of Beijing in the South China sea.
Also the European authorities drew attention to how the various projects China's influence on the economy and the environment. The planned construction of six coal-fired power plants in Pakistan, the overall performance of which will be 27% of all current performance of the country, called unsustainable.
Sri Lanka has not been able to repay China loan for construction of a port in Hambantota, and as a result the port and the surrounding area, strategically located at the crossroads of trade routes of the Indian ocean, Bay of Bengal and the Arabian sea, will be under the control of China until 2114. Malaysia and Myanmar are also seeking to restructure the loans taken by the initiative of "One belt and one road".
The growth of China's influence in Asia and Europe causes concern in the EU, as it is not limited to only politics and Economics, but also affects technical standards and trade flows. However, in the EU realize that this discontent will not force China to reconsider its strategy.
To ensure compliance with their own economic and political interests, the EU should strengthen its ties with countries where China is developing the initiative "One belt and one road" to give them reasonable and compelling alternative. This new strategy will allow Europe and Asia to better imagine how the EU intends to build cooperation with them, and what to expect from him.
The current negotiations on the next EU budget will be critical in order to provide the necessary funds and attract investment from private and multilateral investors. This strategy will also require the support of EU and bilateral and multilateral cooperation programs with EU partners.
Geopolitical rivalry in Eurasia will continue to grow: China, Russia, the US and the EU compete for influence in the region. And the strategy adopted today shows that the EU wants to be part of the Big Game.
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