What does the New Silk Road mean for Europe?

Beijing wants to expand its "New Silk Road" and plans to invest roughly three billion Euros in infrastructural projects in Southeast Europe. A key goal is to speed up the transport of Chinese goods delivered via the Greek port of Piraeus to Central Europe. Journalists believe the cooperation could have drastic consequences for Europe and the existing world order.

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Demokrata (HU) /

Pragmatism determining a new world order

Demokrata is thrilled that the countries of Eastern Europe now have a new cooperation partner:

“The summit in Budapest was a further milestone on the path to a bipolar world. In contrast to cooperation with the US, dealings with China are entirely pragmatic. China doesn't want to convince Europe of the blessings of state capitalism with a modern, communist face. ... All Beijing cares about is good trade relations, whereby the political orientation of its trading partners is unimportant. The US, on the other hand, puts massive political pressure on its partners, including the EU. ... What's more, one needn't worry that Beijing, driven by a desire to make the world a better place, will try to force its boons on other countries while attempting to overhaul their economic and political systems. So the emerging bipolarity should be seen as a blessing.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Chinese investments weaken the EU

There are two reasons why Brussels should be worried about China's initiative in Eastern Europe, Jutarnji list observes:

“The first is that China could use its growing clout in the east of the EU as a way to apply pressure and influence EU policies. The second is that eastern EU members could use their investment-driven friendship with China to improve their bargaining position [within the EU]. Because, so the argument goes, why not help certain ambitious member states build an axis stretching from the Adriatic to the Baltic in order to jointly weaken Brussels' influence?”

Diena (LV) /

A welcome cash injection for Eastern Europe

The states of Eastern Europe in particular could really benefit from China's money, Diena writes, delighted with the results of the summit:

“If you look at things from the point of view of the member states, Chinese investments in the region are definitely good news. … All the more so because Chinese state investments are traditionally also followed by private investment, meaning that considerably more money is invested in many different sectors. In general the Eastern European countries are optimistic about the New Silk Road, even if its benefits are sometimes exaggerated. Because China invests very carefully and no one in Beijing wants to pay too much or make unnecessary purchases.”

Die Welt (DE) /

EU recklessly allowing itself to be divided

The EU will be courting disaster if it doesn't stand up to China, Die Welt fears:

“With its financial support Beijing is buying indirect influence over European politics. If Orbán and co. become dependent on Chinese loans, they'll start using their votes in Europe to protect China's interests. It's high time the countries of the EU stood side by side against an increasingly self-confident China. That goes for Beijing's aggressive quest for power in Africa and in the Balkans. Concerted action on Europe's part is particularly called for in areas where its fundamental interests are at stake. ... Only as a united entity will the EU have enough clout to push through European concepts on trademark law, investment protection and contractual loyalty vis-à-vis Beijing.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Europe should be warned by Africa's experiences

Closer ties with China may seem very lucrative but would also entail major risks, Hospodářské noviny points out:

“Everyone wants to do business with Beijing because of the huge market over there, just as everyone is interested in a country that can funnel billions of dollars into infrastructure projects. But above all the poorer countries in the Balkans should take a close look at the experiences of African states that agreed on major projects with China and are now having problems paying off their debts. ... There's no such thing as a free Peking duck lunch. What's more, China's goal in buying European firms is often enough simply to get hold of modern technologies which it can then use to make products at home that compete with Western products.”