China securing influence in Europe
China is the world's largest diplomatic power, according to the Australian Lowy Institute's Global Diplomacy Index 2019. Europe is increasingly feeling Beijing's growing economic and geopolitical clout, among other things due to Beijing's Belt and Road initiative. How should the EU respond?
Conquering the world with credit diplomacy
Volkskrant columnist Sheila Sitalsing warns against a new wave of colonialism:
“First they came to secure oil, gold, wood and political support for Chinese interests. ... Then their people arrived. Thousands flew to Africa and South America to build roads and bridges. ... Then they pumped the new colonies full of loans and built embassies like cathedrals. And spread the views they wanted people to have. ... Credit diplomacy is making the world a little bit more Chinese every day, as in the past, in the heyday of Western colonialism, when European-style houses and French fashion were exported to the overseas colonies. ... Europe has become an open-air museum for Asians. ... Put a glass dome over it and that's it - while the big boys get on with divvying up the world among themselves.”
EU needs its own visionary project
Instead of leaving the field to China Europe should invest far more in developing its own infrastructure than it has so far, the Financial Times urges:
“If Beijing can secure such interest [in its Belt and Road initiative] for modest amounts of cash, it is because the EU's own offer is so meagre that it makes China's look attractive. Nor have European leaders presented anything like a political vision to rival Belt and Road's promise of more connected markets. If Europe is serious about its desire for strategic autonomy, this must change.”