lørdag 4. januar 2020

Simon Tisdall: Europe is squeezed between a hungry China and surly US

The idea of Xi Jinping as a modern-day Odysseus seems a little far-fetched. But China’s globetrotting president proved a match for Homer’s hero last week when he trundled a Trojan horse deep inside the EU city gates – with an enthusiastic helping push from the Greeks. It was a classical, even epic, piece of opportunism.

Xi’s visit to Athens marked a breakthrough moment in China’s decades-long siege of Europe’s markets. A series of deals will raise its investment in Greece to around €2.5bn. More significantly, Xi expanded Beijing’s foothold in the strategic port of Piraeus, from whence a rising tide of Chinese imports flow into the EU.

By co-opting an EU and Nato member into his all-encompassing Belt and Road initiative and effectively hiring it as a bespoke “gateway to Europe”, Xi advanced China’s overall global ambitions. The demarche also highlights a bigger, possibly existential, challenge for the EU: how to avoid becoming the meat in the sandwich between a ravenous China and an increasingly unreliable, surly and hostile United States.