'Silk Road' between China and Europe - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#14535576
While the US is trying to tie down the EU with the TTIP, China is also seeking closer relations with Europe:

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called to boost European trade links on Sunday (8 March), as the European Commission mulls Beijing's market economy status within the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
...
The emphasis [of Chinese foreign policy] will be on promoting infrastructural connectivity, and building overland economic corridors and pillars of maritime cooperation,” said Wang in relation to China’s so-called “belt-and-road” priorities.

"Belt and road" refers to Chinese President Xi Jinping's plan to connect Asia and Europe. The ‘belt’ refers to a trade route stretching by land from Xi’an in northwest China, through Central Asia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, before crossing the Bosphorus into northwest Europe, passing through Germany and the Netherlands, to Italy.

The 'road' refers to a maritime link stretching by sea from China through the Indian Ocean, around Africa to the Mediterranean, meeting the "belt"-based land road in Venice, the medieval European starting point of the ancient silk road to Cathay.

Market status impacts on fines, prestige

The call comes as the EU executive mulls China’s market economy status (MES) within the WTO, the Geneva-based body which arbitrates global trade. China was categorised as a non-market economy when it was admitted to WTO membership in 2001.

The issue is up for review in 2016, however, with some legal interpretations suggesting that China should automatically receive MES next year.

Such MES within the WTO has an impact on the level of sanctions, such as fines awarded against offending countries within the WTO system. For example, non-market economy status countries can expect higher fines in respect of proven trade dumping compared with their MES counterparts. China is keen to shrug off its outsider non-MES position for practical reasons, but also to bolster its general prestige within the body.

“The Commission has been continually examining China's progress in reforming its economy towards market principles for a number of years now to determine whether or not China can be considered as a market economy in trade defence investigations,” a spokesman for the EU executive told EurActiv.

Not there yet, says the Commission

There is no WTO-wide approach to granting MES, so each member nation or bloc undertakes its own decision-making process as it sees fit.

“To date, our analysis has shown that China does not meet all the MES criteria,” the Commission spokesman added.

The issue of China’s market economy status, and whether an automatic grant might be considered “requires detailed reflection by the Commission”, he said.

Trade analysts anticipate that the EU executive will indicate a decision-making roadmap before the summer, but this comes against a tense political backdrop, as Europe is keen to garner Chinese investment, especially in connection to the digital economy, a source of growing friction with the US.

“There is mounting evidence that the real competitive challenge for Europe will come from the east, especially China, which is taking a protectionist and expansionist approach to securing its future digital dominance,” according to a recent (23 February) commentary piece for Project Syndicate.

The article was written by Robert Atkinson, founder of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation – a Washington-based think tank, and Paul Hofheinz, the president of Brussels-based think tank The Lisbon Council.

“If the European Union and the US do not collaborate to limit China on this front, they risk leaving the playing field wide open to a regulatory regime based on principles that directly controvert the fundamental values the West's two largest economies share,” Atkinson and Hofheinz said.

Tense political backdrop as Europe seeks investment

“We are confident that the ‘belt-and-road’ initiative will win even more support and deliver even more ‘early harvests’, so as to catalyse the revitalisation of the Eurasian continent as a whole,” said Wang in his press conference.

Asked to comment on comparisons between China's "Belt-and-Road" plan and the Marshall Plan - through which the US delivered billions of dollars of aid to Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War - Wang replied: “It ['Belt and road'] is a product of inclusive cooperation, not a tool of geopolitics, and must not be viewed with the outdated Cold War mentality.”

The EU-China relationship went otherwise unmentioned during the briefing. Foreign Minister Wang subsequently discussed Chinese President Xi Jinping’s scheduled visit Washington later this year at the invitation of the White House; healthy Sino-Russian relations; poor Sino-Japanese relations; Afghanistan, Africa, Myanmar and India.

Asked about Chinese activity on islands and reefs in the South China Sea – a source of friction in the Asia-Pacific region - Wang said: “We are not like some countries, who engage in illegal construction in another person's house. And we do not accept criticism from others when we are merely building facilities in our own yard.”


Source: euroactiv

The EU has made of mess of its Eastern partnership program by favoring Ukraine at the expense of Russia. The Chinese will make no such mistake. It's not too late for Europe to actively develop the potentials of the Eurasian continent. Europe will also have to learn how to promote its domestic industries by an industrial policy so as to be able to compete with state-directed economies like China. Cooperation with China on the digital economy can help counter US domination in this field. Most of all, Europe should not let itself by tied down by the TTIP.
#14535585
This sounds wonderful. I can only imagine your dismay when you realise that the dichotomy of "China versus the US" that you've constructed here, does not actually exist, because the United States has an overlapping confluence of interests that it shares with China on the idea to construct this road and belt, for its own reasons.

There is room for everyone to be involved in trade with Europe. Except Russia, because Russia sucks.

Regarding Ukraine, don't worry about that, China also favoured a Ukraine with stronger ties to the EU, because that's just geostrategic common sense.
#14536563
The Western media seems to have completely missed the big picture with what's happening in China and on extention, Asia. There simply isn't much mention with China's one belt, one road inititative, transcontinential HSR, anti-corruption initiatives etc...instead, they are simply focusing on non issues such as:
1. Territorial disputes, pollution, our societal problems
2. Downplaying and dismissing all our reforms and initiatives, because...
3. "China has no democracy and human rights and is basically like North Korea except bigger"
etc...blah blah blah

But I am not upset, I think this is wonderful. We don't need the US poking their nose around, and now they are completely oblivious to our development and decide to throw all their resources in killing Muslims and Slavs instead of responding, and at the same time validating to the world that China is a better choice as ally and trading partner.

Don't get me wrong - while I think China would love to cooperate with US in some of these initiatives, US is likely to try and sabotage it instead of playing along because of their crazy cold war mentality. It's better to let them focus their energy somewhere else, so we have all the space we need to develop.
#14536564
Encourage more tourism.
My son and his family lived in Wuhan for 6 months and loved everything about China (except the air pollution and heat). I believe this will eventually change a lot of attitudes.
#14536584
I agree with both of you. I really think that most average western people don't really understand even the basics about China. Like, even when China happens to be annoying me from time to time, I am still excited about their overall role in Asia because I can see that they have really good projects going, and I can't really say scathing things about them when they are doing the things that are supposed to be done.

This is not to say that China should have to prove itself to me or something, they are their own people with their own lives, but for what it's worth I think that China has come a very long way and really is an example of stunning human perseverance. Looking at how far they've come in 30 years, there are dark areas, but it is impressive and very useful.

The road and belt is basically a core element of the Pan-Asian dream which for various reasons China has decided to build for their own purpose, and China is succeeding at building it without yet having fired a shot in anger unilaterally.

The day may yet come because eventually these things always come to military conflict on a large scale in the end, but so far the softly-softly approach has been like they've gone to the oval to play cricket, taken up a defensive posture, and just cut, tapped, clipped, and driven their way toward slowly accumulating runs. It is very professional. I've come to respect China more over time.
#14536589
I too respect China's orderly development, which was long overdue for such a nation which bequeathed so much to East Asia yet seemingly couldn't get its own house in order for so long with all the factionalism and rival power plays. That crippling internal division led to regional weakness and global non-existence and invisibility as a power, and naturally with that, external exploitation. I admire the velvet touch with which the CCP has retained control of the fourth largest and most highly populated country in the world without having to resort to measures which earn it unpopularity or animosity on a mass scale.

What I worry about - or, let's not say worry, but look toward with anticipation and suspense - is that historically anytime a country's industrial consolidation and output combined with growing military strength finally catches up with its self-perception as an undoubted bastion of cultural richness which has been cheated of its rightful status at the center of the world's affairs (China - the "Middle Kingdom") due to external viciousness and internal weakness and failings, there is a frantic pace set to "right" these past "wrongs". Italy in the interwar period is an example of this, and although it increased its relative strength, we're not talking about the same scale. Now, there's nothing objectively negative about that at all, but it raises many questions for Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, India, and others.

My personal very simplified view is that it's in the Chinese, Indian, and Russian interest to undermine and break Western might before squabbling amongst themselves, but there are so many agendas in play it's difficult to reconcile.

It's a puzzle to get inside the mind of an ordinary Chinese (Ben - help us out?), but were I one, I have the feeling I would be seething with anger over certain past incidents. If the government cannot weave a successful narrative which inflames the average psyche about why China's development trajectory is so existential to wash away the pages of history tarnished with the "century of humiliation" while keeping that passionate indignation focused in a productive direction then they are derelict in their duties. As a white Westerner I can read the details of the Opium Wars and feel a sense of humiliation, shame, and loathing by proxy and at the risk of sounding hyperbolic - wouldn't see fit to rest until London and Paris were in flames. Of course, it would be injudicious to act rashly by designating any one country a perpetual friend or foe and as heirs to a civilization of at least several thousand years of known and recorded history, I know the CCP has an eye on the long view and possesses an appreciation of more nuance than that.
#14536595
Far-Right Sage wrote:As a white Westerner I can read the details of the Opium Wars and feel a sense of humiliation, shame, and loathing by proxy and at the risk of sounding hyperbolic - wouldn't see fit to rest until London and Paris were in flames. Of course, it would be injudicious to act rashly by designating any one country a perpetual friend or foe and as heirs to a civilization of at least several thousand years of known and recorded history, I know the CCP has an eye on the long view and possesses an appreciation of more nuance than that.


Why would people hold such grudges for so many years? Today neither France or England can threaten China in any way, shape or form. Neither has any desire to do so either. Remember, it was not just Britain and France that humiliated China in the 19th century. The Germans and Russians also played a part as well. China's choices should not be based on a desire for revenge but on the needs of the 21st century.
#14536596
It shouldn't be motivated by revenge per se, which was my point about the Chinese leadership possessing clarity and nuance about such matters. It should be rooted in a desire never to be put in such a position of degradation again by any foreign power. China isn't alone in this, it goes without saying. Many of our nations have similar instructive episodes in our history. They should serve as a warning, a deterrent, and a motivator.
#14536597
Ah, PI and FRS my friends! you are of course both correct. Germany was in a similar situation in 1919, and indeed Russia has been in retrospect in that position since 1917. I therefor cannot blame a truly Nationalist government of China for taking stock of their history of upheaval since 1911. However, the times they do indeed change, and there is no material or spiritual profit to be made out of revenge.
#14536604
Far-Right Sage wrote:What I worry about - or, let's not say worry, but look toward with anticipation and suspense - is that historically anytime a country's industrial consolidation and output combined with growing military strength finally catches up with its self-perception as an undoubted bastion of cultural richness which has been cheated of its rightful status at the center of the world's affairs (China - the "Middle Kingdom") due to external viciousness and internal weakness and failings, there is a frantic pace set to "right" these past "wrongs".

Actually, a whole century of humiliation did taught the Chinese a thing or two about humility. We no longer expect China to become the dynasty of heavens of old and have everyone else bow to us. We just wanted to be respected, and failing that, at least treated as equals.
In fact, I think China has actually rediscovered her own identity in this new age - We no longer need white westerners to accept us as part of the "international community" - we will make our own; Foreign technological achievements are still highly respected but no longer held in divine regard; we start to buy our own brands out of preference.
Even the average Chinese citizen has become a lot more politically mature - for example, just a few years ago, a western gaming company misused a Panda logo in its advertisements and got tons of angry responses from China... Recently, some French magazine made Xenophobic cartoons insulting us, and we just laughed it off.
Little things like these all point to a different level of collective maturity - it is a real sign that we are finally out of the "century of humiliation".

My personal very simplified view is that it's in the Chinese, Indian, and Russian interest to undermine and break Western might before squabbling amongst themselves, but there are so many agendas in play it's difficult to reconcile.

That's exactly what every Asian will look forward to. As our ecomomic muscles grow, it will make sense for Asia to sort out disputes on our own, instead of waiting for Uncle Sam to mediate. I don't think China aims to kick Westerners out of the Asian theatre, but they will be accepted here only as a trading partner, not as policemen. We expect and wish to do the same in the Western world.
At the moment, US still has protectorates in Asia such as Philippines and Australia, and to a lesser extent, Japan, India and Vietnam. But the Chinese position is never to make them choose "us or them". We are just looking for closer economic integration. Therefore in the long run it makes sense for them to marginalize US influence and only use them as bargaining chip in the future. I think there will continue to be clashes, but these seemingly unreconcilable disputes will fade as time passes. Anybody who insist on embracing conflict and confrontation will simply miss these opportunities.

Far-Right Sage wrote:As a white Westerner I can read the details of the Opium Wars and feel a sense of humiliation, shame, and loathing by proxy and at the risk of sounding hyperbolic - wouldn't see fit to rest until London and Paris were in flames.

Quite a big question, a few short answers of why we don't hate westerners as much as the Japanese:
1. Japanese aggression in China is far more overt and brutal than Western colonization. Things like bayoneting babies, mass massacres and human experiments aren't that common with Western colonizers during Qing. They have done their share of bad things, but not so much "in-your-face" mindless barbarity - so it is comparitively easier to forgive and forget.
2. WWII beef with Japan is also far more publicised because unlike whites who recognized their previous wrongdoings, returned most stolen artifacts and abolished all unequal treaties (Well they try to subjucate us in other forms, but its a topic of another discussion), Japanese has a completely different point of view with this period of history, which we cannot find ourselves to agree to.
3. Of cause, there is the much repeated talk point that CCP is trying to divert internal problems, which isn't entirely untrue but much, much exaggerated. It is unreasonable to assume that CCP would think itself able to divert all societal problems if they blame it all on Japan. That's just nonsensal.
4. Almost every older person in China from the 1945 period has intimate first hand experience of living under Japanese rule, losing a few loved ones or having whole villages burned down, while every last person who lived through Western colonization in Qing has already died from old age.
5. Economically, the west is our biggest customer, which is also very good reason not to hate them.

EDIT: I no longer like to bring up these issues as often, because we should all be focusing on Pan-Asian cooperation, not WWII. But do understand that this is not going away anytime soon.
As a bonus though, I found myself able to agree with Rei on at least one point: Asia wouldn't be unable to stand on its own feet if Japan didn't burn down everything in the first place. I loathe Japan's sense of superiority and unspeakable barbarity inflicted upon fellow Asians - but whether intentional or not, they did set the stage for Asia's independence. Now is the time for China to do it properly.

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