lørdag 4. januar 2020

Europe needs China’s billions. But does it know the price?

The Yiwu-to-London train pulls into the DB Eurohub terminus in Barking, east London, 18 days after leaving the Chinese city, a trading centre south of Shanghai. Over the course of its 7,500-mile (12,000km) journey to Europe, the train has wound its way through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France, following part of the old east-west Silk Road.

This freight-rail link is just one of many new routes that, along with roads and ports, form China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Whether the branding is an elaborate PR exercise or a new version of the Silk Road, what is real is that as China globalises, its investment is being gratefully sought across Europe. From ports to power stations, football clubs to financial companies, from the Norwegian city of Kirkenes to the Greek port of Piraeus and the Portuguese national grid, Chinese investment has become indispensable to the European economy. However, the country’s rise as a global economic power poses a strategic dilemma for European governments. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, warned in March that the “period of European naivety” about China had to end.