The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) concluded at the end of March between China and Italy drove the global community into a frenzy of excitement. Indeed, Italy was the first amongst the Group of Seven industrialized nations (G7) and the founders of the European Union (EU) to commit to China’s infrastructure projects in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Europe has shown little interest to get involved in the global power struggles between Beijing and Washington. Most European governments take a more nuanced view of the China challenge. They share US concerns about the direction of the Middle Kingdom under President Xi Jinping, including domestic market access and unfair competition from state-owned and backed Chinese companies in China and globally.
Germany is China’s most important economic partner in the EU and China is Germany’s most important economic partner in Asia. Germany therefore has relied on a negotiation- and discussion-based approach in its relations with China following the principle “change through trade” (Wandel durch Handel). While other western powers, such as the United States, already took a tougher stance vis-à-vis China on past occasions, Germany regarded it more as a partner than a competitor. However, things have changed in recent years.
Relations between China and the European Union have been changing dramatically. As China’s presence in Europe increased, Brussels took a more assertive stance against bilateral agreements between Beijing and EU member states, advocating in favor of a multilateral approach and EU standards.
At present, China and Europe are facing similar global challenges: protectionism, populism, separatism, terrorism, and unilateralism. Global stability and the international order are suffering from the greatest threats since World War II. If we can maintain our national interests despite instability and continue world peace, China and Europe could play an indispensable international role.
Under the common global threat, both China and Europe have common interests and demands.
The EU-China Summit to be held in Brussels this week comes at a crucial and unprecedented juncture in EU-China relations.
When China’s President Xi Jinping launched his flagship project on the “Silk Road Economic Belt” in Astana in the fall of 2013, followed by the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” in Jakarta a month later, few people in France took notice, except perhaps for a few experts in academic circles or research institutions focusing on China.
The Italian eagerness to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese government over participation in the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) sent shockwaves throughout Europe. Under the Eurosceptic coalition government in Rome, Italy has found a friend in China, which sees the ‘forgotten’ port of Trieste as the perfect gateway to the heart of Europe for its 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
Annunciata ufficialmente dai media cinesi lunedì 18 marzo, la visita del Presidente cinese Xi Jinping in Europa si svolge dal 21 al 26 marzo: è cominciata in Italia, farà tappa nel Principato di Monaco e terminerà in Francia. Sei giorni che si prospettano densi di opportunità per l’evoluzione della Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) cinese in Europa.
La Cina guarda con interesse alla convenzione sullo status del bacino del Caspio poiché un rafforzamento della cooperazione regionale in tal senso migliorerebbe la posizione economica cinese in alcuni snodi portuali strategici, che hanno già goduto di investimenti per la realizzazione di infrastrutture nell’ambito Belt and Road.