Sweden is caught up in a heated debate about China's influence in the country. In the western Swedish city of Lysekil Chinese investors wanted to build the biggest deep-water container port in Northern Europe, but protests brought the project to a halt. How should the country behave with regard to Beijing and major projects of this kind in general?
Too much at stake for local authorities to decide
Göteborgs-Posten is relieved at the failure of the project:
“China's global investments are not just economically motivated, they're part of a strategy with which the dictatorship wants to expand its international influence. ... The project could have posed a threat to Sweden's ability to defend itself. Control of the west coast is decisive should it come to an attack from the east, and China's close ties with Russia are no secret. ... One lesson from the port project is that assessing security policy risks must not be left to local politicians when it comes to foreign investments - particularly regarding infrastructure projects. To protect Sweden from foreign powers the state must be able to restrict the local authorities' right to self-determination.”
Confront China with confidence
Upsala Nya Tidning agrees that any naivety regarding China is out of place:
“Of course China can take over ailing ports, for example, but we should also make it clear that we want something in return. ... Smaller countries like Sweden are afraid that they could be left out of the equation. But with the EU backing us, we can be far more vocal in our criticism. ... China's economic problems are in fact far bigger than is generally admitted - also due to its own mistakes. It needs the EU just as much as the EU needs it. The question is what type of world we want to be living in 30 years from now. And if we want democracy, it's high time to take a stand.”