Sierens China: lack of vision

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Particularly in the poorer countries of Eastern Europe, Beijing fired with its “New silk road“ in a long-awaited spirit of optimism, the Brussels can be Small-Small, contrary to little, writes Frank Sieren.

In Brussels it looked like: After they had wrested with Beijing at the EU-China summit, a thin joint Declaration, more traveled, the Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang to Croatia, in Dubrovnik, Beijing, pay attention to open 16+1 summit.

Heads of state and heads of government from China and Central and South – Eastern Europe, discussed the two days of the joint economic contracts – without Brussels. China wants to make Eastern Europe within its “New silk road” a link between China and Central Europe markets. Especially for the countries of the Western Balkans, the crumbling infrastructure has a huge pent-up demand, the Chinese Initiative tempting. At the recent summit in Greece, the 16+1 is well-community, which had so far only observer status. In March, Italy has joined, in spite of Protest from Brussels, as the first large European industrial state of the silk road. A total of 15 of the 28 EU member States now participate in one way or another to the Chinese silk road initiative – and thus the majority of the EU member States.

Provocation in the backyard

For Brussels 2012, launched the 16+1 summit is a provocation in its own backyard. Twelve of the participants in the summit are EU member States, only five Non-EU members. Beijing was buying you followers and prevent a United front of the EU, the fear in Brussels. Premier Li responded that China planned to divide the EU. China don’t need to any more. It is already happening.

Especially the countries that were long considered second-class Europeans, consider China today as a close Partner. Since 2007, China has invested over US $ 29 billion in major construction projects in Eastern Europe. Most of Serbia benefited, where the total volume amounted to more than ten billion dollars. After Hungary comes with almost four billion dollars, followed by Poland with about three billion, and Romania with 2.5 billion.

The European law interested in Beijing in his investment only when you suddenly appears as a hurdle. That doesn’t happen too often. Brussels criticises much of the action in China: The tendering for Chinese building projects, during non-transparent and favours corruption. China attempts to deal with mainly its own workers and its own companies, rather than the local economy.

DW-columnist Frank Sieren

The high level of loans would lead to poorer EU countries in the debt and dependency of China, Brussels. Environmental standards would be taken into account by Chinese companies. That China should open up its market equally for European companies, is also often down gebetetes Mantra. All of these concerns had been brought, however, only vague declarations of intent by Beijing, most recently at the EU-China summit in Brussels at the beginning of the month was celebrated come to meet large, but in the end, as so often, nothing really Binding.

EU without their own Alternatives

Brussels patted on the shoulder: Finally, you’ve found a sharper tone towards China. Beijing vowed to improve, but furthermore, the disunity of the EU to find loopholes, to bring bilateral agreements with individual European governments, and this is sometimes in opposition to each other. For example, the national digital authority of Croatia has signed a Memorandum of understanding to work together with Huawei, and with China in the joint research in the field of Artificial intelligence and in the construction of the 5G network is going to invest. Poland is against a participation of Huawei in the 5G Development. Hungary wants to maintain the cooperation, the Czech Republic and Romania are in this issue disagree. Your own Alternatives may not offer the EU in terms of research and development, it is lagging behind in international comparison.

Brussels has stimulated its own initiatives, such as the Western Balkans, Digital Summit, the biggest success in the negotiations at the last Meeting at the beginning of April, however, was just the agreement that the six Western Balkan countries of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Northern Macedonia, and Serbia want to abolish roaming fees by 2021 to each other. Beijing adopts in Eastern Europe more money in the Hand and provides for the award of these funds less conditions. The Chinese beat us here with our own weapons. We have always told them how important it is for us the competition is? Under Brussels, says the poorer countries in Europe for cooperation with China, it would seem to many governments, as the EU is their future decline. Add: Beijing even has to offer a Vision for the future and plans accordingly. Although many of the projects of the “New silk road” in 50 years or later pay off, the results of Beijing’s investments in the Form of giant construction sites in many countries of Eastern Europe are already visible: bridges, roads, cultural centres, long stainless factories are being renewed. The mood it creates. The Vision of a United Europe once had similar traction, but now the reality of the situation, paralyzed and pulverized in a bureaucracy, and the sensitivities of individual countries such as the United Kingdom. Beijing has a great strategy. Brussels somehow muddles through.

Our columnist Frank Sieren has lived for over twenty years in Beijing.