Ceding Influence to China

While I know I am somehow at odds with a few of my friends, colleagues and clients on the U.S.’s present positioning among its global partners, I suspect we can all agree (that is, if we are “all” paying attention) that while the U.S. pulls in, China is reaching out, big time.

I’ve noted herein China’s huge push into Africa and India, but, as you’ll note below, it’s also got its sights firmly set on Europe. 

Here’s the thing, while it’s forever  politically expedient (not to say that it’s wrong) to point to the needs of Americans while America attends to the needs of folks outside its borders, the simple fact remains that if America doesn’t continue its long-standing tradition/leadership of investing in and, therefore, influencing the growth of other nations, China is more than happy to pick up where it leaves off. And when I think about the structure, the system, the values that characterize China, and a world that becomes more beholden to it, I worry!

Here’s from this week’s edition of The Economist:

EUROPE has caught China’s eye. Chinese investments there have soared, to nearly €36bn ($40bn) in 2016—almost double the previous years’ total. Chinese FDI fell in 2017, but the share spent in Europe rose from a fifth to a quarter. For the most part, this money is welcome. Europe’s trading relationship with China has made both sides richer.

China is also using its financial muscle to buy political influence (see Briefing). The Czech president, Milos Zeman, wants his country to be China’s “unsinkable aircraft-carrier” in Europe. Last year Greece stopped the European Union from criticising China’s human-rights record at a UN forum. Hungary and Greece prevented the EU from backing a court ruling against China’s expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Yes, per paragraph 1, trade makes both parties richer; an empirical truth that, as I suspect you know, has me bothered to no end by present trade conditions, but, again, per paragraph 2, there’s far more to it than who buys how much of what from whom, or, alas, who our elected leaders happen to be friendly with on any given day — which is the myopic stance that has the U.S. to a growing degree ceding its global influence to China these days.


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