EU harbors fears about China’s maritime Silk Roads
The EU is not a political entity known for reaching consensus with speed. Its fears over security-related foreign investments, specifically from China, however, have activated debates and movements towards stringent policies. “We are not naive free traders,” stated EU President Jean-Claude Juncker. “Europe must always defend its strategic interests. This is why today we are proposing a new EU frame working for investment screening…if a foreign, state-owned company wants to purchase a European harbor, part of our energy infrastructure or a defense technology firm, this should only happen in transparency, with scrutiny and debate…it is a political responsibility to know what is going on in our own backyard so that we can protect our collective security if needed.” With Chinese conglomerates owning stakes in 13 European ports, comprising 10% of the continents shipping container capacity, European attention is focusing on how China’s ongoing Belt and Road Initiative’s multi-trillion dollar infrastructure projects will impact investment, European economies and European security. Both France and Germany have stated that Chinese investment and partnerships cannot be unidirectional, but must move in both directions. It may take some time to negotiate and develop, but the EU will likely develop a stringent set of codes and an explicit policy for interaction with Chinese investment before it grows much further.