Matthieu VITEAU: China’s economic footprint spreads in Europe

Matthieu VITEAU: China’s economic footprint spreads in Europe

Since 2009, the year when half of Greece’s main port – Piraeus – was leased out to China’s COSCO, Chinese state-owned enterprises have taken increased stakes in the EU’s economic landscape. China’s economic footprint spreads in Europe. The push to further gain European assets – either physical or intangible – has grow and although not new, the trend rarely reaches headlines. The following Bloomberg article is an attempt to sum it up after roughly 10 years of takeovers or just acquisition of capital shares.

The European Council of Foreign Relations as well as the EU (notably the EU Institute for Strategic Studies, the EEAS) have been keeping an eye in the EU’s eastern member States – yet perhaps not that much in its western half.

Now, 27 ambassadors of EU member States posted in Beijing are taking a stance on the One Belt-One Road strategy. Reflecting the Hungarian government’s policies of the past decade, the Hungarian ambassador to China did not join with the other 28.

Far more than just mere political posturing, the Chinese projects ought to be looked at and in deeper: how sound are the economic fundamentals of Chinese state-owned entreprises (SOEs) – and its broader economy – when figures and data are not transparent, available on a selective basis and shadow banking prevalent?

If SOE can be considered solvent as they are the Chinese state supposedly own them (what if it doesn’t at some point?), do they obey to the rules governing the EU’s markets?

Unbeknownst to many, the EU – namely the Commission – is efficient in increasing the resilience of the EU territory (and therefore, EU citizens) from unwanted geopolitical influence by successfully enforcing competition regulations and enacting the 3rd Energy package (the Energy Union).

The EU is not all powerful: it acts upon the powers conferred onto it by member States and citizens within the framework of the rule of law.

It is high time EU stakeholders – not so much states and public authorities but rather corporate decision-makers and even citizens – realised the more assets both tangible and intangible they sell off to non-EU entities for short term gain, the less options the EU populations will have over the long term to increase the resilience of human communities in the EU.


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