søndag 7. april 2019

Italy Signs on to Belt and Road Initiative: EU-China Relations at Crossroads?

China’s increased economic and political footprint in Europe has finally caught the attention of policymakers on the continent. In a new European Union (EU) approach, for the first time, Beijing is mentioned as a “systemic rival” of Europe. According the recent document of the EU Commission “EU-China: A strategic outlook,” China is moving from a “strategic partner” (as depicted for more than 15 years in EU parlance) to a “negotiating partner.” Ideally, the EU needs to find a balance of interests with China as an “economic competitor” in the pursuit of technological leadership, and as a “systemic rival” promoting alternative models of governance.

One of the main challenges in Sino-European relations is being played out by China’s far reaching initiative, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) or One Belt One Road (OBOR), the brainchild of Chinese President Xi Jinping. The BRI, elevated to the constitutional rank by the Chinese Communist Party as a part of Xi Jinping’s “China’s Dream,” is an open competition for global leadership, and a way to reshape the international system, putting China at its center.