Frän kritik från EU mot Kinas nya sidenväg

I veckan skrev tyska Handelsblatt om en läckt EU-rapport som de kommit över angående Kinas nya sidenväg (OBOR), som cirka 9 000 miljarder kronor avsatts för.

Rapporten, som undertecknats av alla 28 Kina-ambassadärer från EU utan en, kritiserar bland annat OBOR:s standarder gällande miljö, transparens och arbetsrätt.

Ambassadörerna menar även att projektet favoriserar kinesiska byggföretag och därmed främst kommer Kina till nytta, särskilt som OBOR verkar skräddarsytt för att skapa nya kinesiska exportmarknader och öka landets globala politiska inflytande:

Twenty-seven of the 28 national EU ambassadors to Beijing have compiled a report that sharply criticizes China’s “Silk Road” project, denouncing it as designed to hamper free trade and put Chinese companies at an advantage.

The report, seen by Handelsblatt, said the plan, unveiled in 2013, “runs counter to the EU agenda for liberalizing trade and pushes the balance of power in favor of subsidized Chinese companies.”

(…)

In their report, the ambassadors wrote that China wanted to shape globalization to suit its own interests. “At the same time the initiative is pursuing domestic political goals like the reduction of surplus capacity, the creation of new export markets and safeguarding access to raw materials,” it read.

They warned that European companies could fail to clinch good contracts if China isn’t pushed into adhering to the European principles of transparency in public procurement, as well as environmental and social standards.

Det är knappast någon överraskning att det just är Ungerns ambassadör som inte skrivit under rapporten, vilken även understryker Kinas framgång med att stoppa gemensam kritik från EU genom att köpa lojalitet från ett par europeiska länder.

Som jag skrev i min nya bok ”De kidnappade Kinasvenskarna” så var det också Ungern som nyligen stoppade ett gemensamt EU-uttalande mot Kinas alltmer utbredda tortyr mot rättsadvokater.

Dessförinnan blockerade Grekland ett utlåtande inför FN:s råd för mänskliga rättigheter om situationen i Kina. Såväl Ungern som Grekland har mottagit stora investeringar från Kina relaterade till OBOR.

Bland andra Deutsche Welle återger uppgifterna om den rapport som Handelsblatt sett, och understryker att det inom EU finns en växande oro för OBOR:s utformning:

New Silk Road — which is also known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) — will enable China to oversee the construction of new roads, ports and pipelines that will run through 65 countries. The initiative is widely seen as helping to cement Beijing’s position as a new global superpower.

China has promised the project will benefit all countries along its route, thanks to the greater connectivity it will allow. But its main trading partners are growing increasingly suspicious over Beijing’s strategic objectives, amid concerns that Chinese state-owned firms are set to reap most of the benefits.

”(At present) ​European companies have to compete against their Chinese counterparts, who enjoy almost unlimited credit from Chinese state banks,” Thomas Eder, a research associate at the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Berlin, told DW.

Rapporten menar vidare att det inte handlar om att vägra att samarbeta med Kina, utan främst att påtala att ekonomiskt utbyte och investeringar bör ske på villkor som alla parter respekterar och kan dra nytta av.

Handelsblatt påpekar mycket riktigt att det finns en växande frustration inom EU för de hinder som existerar för utländska aktörer på den kinesiska marknaden. Frustrationen innefattar även problem med intellektuella rättigheter och tummande på allehanda handelsbestämmelser:

One EU diplomat said China was very good at exploiting grey areas in WTO law on the protection of intellectual property, for example, and didn’t shy away from breaking rules. “When we point that out to our Chinese negotiating partners they always show a lot of understanding but in reality hardly anything changes,” the diplomat said.

Men snarare än att som USA hota med att införa liknande tullar och regler och därmed riskera ett handelskrig, så har EU hittills förlitat sig på förhandlingar för att förmå kineserna att bedriva handel på lika villkor – förhandlingar vilka enligt Handelsblatt varit ”extremt långsamma”.

Detta är inte första gånger EU uttrycker skepsis gentemot Kinas nya sidenväg.

Handelsblatt påminner bland annat om hur flera EU-minstrar, återigen på grund av oro för transparens och arbetsrätt och miljöproblem, vägrade underteckna en skrivelse vid ett stort lanseringsmöte för OBOR i Peking i fjol:

German government papers seen by Handelsblatt indicate that China isn’t interested in transparency when it comes to procurement. Last May, when former Economics Minister Brigitte Zypries traveled to Beijing for the grand launch of the Silk Road initiative, she and other EU officials were meant to sign a joint declaration with the Chinese government. It didn’t happen.

The Europeans wanted to change much of the agreement’s wording, saying it should guarantee “equal opportunities for all investors in transport infrastructure” as well as international standards of transparency.

The Chinese refused to incorporate any amendments.

Jag har tidigare skrivit om den nya sidenvägen otaliga gånger här på InBeijing samt för svenska medier som Fokus, Arbetet Global, Finansliv och Affärsvärlden.

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2 Comments

  1. With such a tone, it is obvious that the EU countries are not confident any more. Their sense of the world power themselves has lost a lot seeing China is progressing so fast. They haven’t participated in the belt and road projects yet and don’t bother to express their ideas of how to do it, but complain and accuse China first. China has again and again emphasised that this is an initiative aiming at win-win situation. China was thankful for the coming of foreign investment and improvement of infrastructure. History shows that if infrastructure improves, people’s living standards improves. People can sit down and talk how to improve. It is not just accusing the other first without participating. China understands that if you like to change you got to participate. I feel bad that a lot of good journalistic job has been stolen by this kind of damaging news for both sides. Media should be a media, but nowadays the western media is just like a needle to stick both sides to win some readers. But in the long run, it will be very harmful for a harmonious world.

    • I agree with you that European countries in many aspects are not as confident as they use to be – and for a good reason. The so called ”peaceful rise” of China has proved not to be that peaceful after all, challenging many pillars of freedom and human rights that some Western societies fought very hard to achieve in the first place. I do not however agree with your statement that investigative journalism is damaging for what you call ”both sides” and for a ”harmonious world”. I would instead argue that celebratory pieces for Xi Jinping, like this one that you wrote yourself, is a worrying example of ”journalism” that constitutes a threat to a harmonious world for real: http://www.chineseonline.se/2018/03/17/xi-jinping-reelected-as-chinese-president/

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