Skip to main content

Virus hastens distancing between China and Belt and Road's European partners


By Sanjay Suri


LONDON: The Chinese appear pushed to the back foot on just about every front now. Away from the very visible US ban on TikTok and WeChat, China is being snubbed into scaling down its ambitions right across Central and Eastern Europe, a region that is critical to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

There are clear signs that the 17 Central and Eastern European countries are cooling off towards China, Emilian Kavalski, professor in China-Eurasia Relations and International Studies at the University of Nottingham tells CNBC-TV18. “One clear example is that the annual summit that China has with the CEE countries has not taken place and very likely will not take place.”

The official reason, he says, is the pandemic, but few of these countries have pushed for some online summit either. “The unofficial reason is that most CEE countries do not want to have the summit before the EU-China summit which was scheduled for September, and now has been postponed indefinitely,” says Prof Kavalski.

Many of these countries are also members of the European Union (EU), and are likely to take their cue increasingly from the EU, Prof Kavalski says. “Increasingly East European countries are becoming more aligned and waiting for Brussels to find a common strategy and policy towards China. Once the policy is formulated, those countries are very much going to fall in line and follow that strategy.”

The CEE bloc includes countries such as Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic, and also countries such as Hungary and Serbia that have been more keen on China than the others, and to some extent still are. The bloc includes crucially Greece which joined late last year. The Piraeus port in Athens has been extensively, and rapidly, developed by China to send goods into Western Europe as a vital outlet in its Belt and Road Initiative.

Criticism, not Investment

That initiative was launched aggressively in this region in 2012. “Most of these countries were never very keen on China, though many among them were curious,” Kavalski says. “Like many countries they wanted to profit from the economic bonanza promised by Chinese investments, and from access to Chinese markets.”

The summits brought little investment.

“A lot of countries were interested in Chinese investment, and this investment, unfortunately both for them and for China did not materialise,” says Kavalski. “So the Czech President announced publicly that he won’t be taking part in this year’s summit planned for April because of lack of investment,” Kavalski says. “While there has been an increase in investment, there hasn’t been a strategically significant investment. Many of the projects were on the drawing board before the current cooling off.”

Instead of investment, Kavalski says the CEE countries have received criticism, mainly from Brussels and Washington. “And EU member states are still the main investors.”

The criticism is now beginning to bite. “The technological cold war between China and the US is already having repercussions. Washington has been putting pressure on CEE countries to ban Huawei and Chinese technological companies from participating in 5G networks. So countries such as Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania and Estonia have already indicated that they will ban Huawei.”

The CEE is now emerging as “a playground for the technological cold war emerging between China and the US,” Kavalski says. Latvia has become the first of these countries to declare China a threat to its national security.

Setback

The setback to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, an infrastructure development plan where China has set a lead role for itself in about 70 countries and international organisations, goes well beyond the CEE itself, says Kavalski. The plan envisages an economic belt through Central Asia into Europe. Also, the maritime Silk Road through the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean need to pass through CEE. “So it is significant for China for being at the crossroads.”

The significance, Kavalski says, increased after the Chinese company COSCO acquired Piraeus port in Athens. “It quickly became the second-largest container ship port in Europe (after Rotterdam). Goods to Europe from Piraeus need to go through Eastern Europe.” Now the future of the Belt and Road Initiative, he says, “will depend on how China’s interest in CEE nations will develop.”

The pandemic, and the economic pressures it has brought, will further set back China’s plans for the region, says Kavalski. “It’s likely that as a result of the pandemic and a need to relocate strategic resources domestically in China, the future of the Belt and Road Initiative will be much more lean and narrow in scope than it was till 2020.” China, he says, “needs to revive its economy, and there’s also a lot of domestic pressure and criticism over splurging money overseas.”

The virus, Prof Kavalski wrote earlier in The Conversation, has only accelerated the social distancing between the CEE and China.
https://www.cnbctv18.com/politics/virus-hastens-distancing-between-china-and-belt-and-roads-european-partners-6586181.htm

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

SSG Commando Muddassir Iqbal of Pakistan Army

“ Commando Muddassir Iqbal was part of the team who conducted Army Public School operation on 16 December 2014. In this video he reveals that he along with other commandos was ordered to kill the innocent children inside school, when asked why should they kill children after killing all the terrorist he was told that it would be a chance to defame Taliban and get nation on the side. He and all other commandos killed children and later Taliban was blamed.
Muddassir Iqbal has deserted the military and now he is  with mujahedeen somewhere in AF PAK border area”
For authenticity of  this tape journalists can easy reach to his home town to interview his family members or   ISPR as he reveals his army service number”
Asalam o Alaikum: My name is Muddassir Iqbal. My father’s name is Naimat Ali. I belong to Sialkot divison (Punjab province), my village is Shamsher Poor and district, tehsil and post office  Narowal. Unfortunately I was working in Pakistan army. I feel embarrassed to tell you …

CPEC Jobs in Pakistan, salary details

JOBS...نوکریاں چائنہ کمپنی میںPlease help the deserving persons...Salary:Salary package in China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in these 300,000 jobs shall be on daily wages. The details of the daily wages are as follows;Welder: Rs. 1,700 dailyHeavy Duty Driver: Rs. 1,700 dailyMason: Rs. 1,500 dailyHelper: Rs. 850 dailyElectrician: Rs. 1,700 dailySurveyor: Rs. 2,500 dailySecurity Guard: Rs. 1,600 dailyBulldozer operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyConcrete mixer machine operator: Rs. 2,000 dailyRoller operator: Rs. 2,000 dailySteel fixer: Rs. 2,200 dailyIron Shuttering fixer: Rs. 1,800 dailyAccount clerk: Rs. 2,200 dailyCarpenter: Rs. 1,700 dailyLight duty driver: Rs. 1,700 dailyLabour: Rs. 900 dailyPara Engine mechanic: Rs. 1,700 dailyPipe fitter: Rs. 1,700 dailyStorekeeper: Rs. 1,700 dailyOffice boy: Rs. 1,200 dailyExcavator operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyShovel operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyComputer operator: Rs. 2,200 dailySecurity Supervisor: Rs. 2,200 dailyCook for Chinese food: Rs. 2,000 dailyCook…

A ‘European Silk Road’

publication_iconPhilipp HeimbergerMario Holznerand Artem Kochnevwiiw Research Report No. 430, August 2018 
43 pages including 10 Tables and 17 FiguresFREE DOWNLOAD
The German version can be found here.In this study we argue for a ‘Big Push’ in infrastructure investments in greater Europe. We propose the building of a European Silk Road, which connects the industrial centres in the west with the populous, but less developed regions in the east of the continent and thereby is meant to generate more growth and employment in the short term as well as in the medium and long term.After its completion, the European Silk Road would extend overland around 11,000 kilometres on a northern route from Lisbon to Uralsk on the Russian-Kazakh border and on a southern route from Milan to Volgograd and Baku. Central parts are the route from Lyon to Moscow in the north and from Milan to Constanţa in the south. The southern route would link Central Europe with the Black Sea area and the Caspian Sea litto…