Europe gets 'woke' on just what aligning with China means

In an "unexpected" move toward the U.S. view of things, the European Union had second thoughts about aligning with China.

The Wall Street Journal has the report:

In a sharp shift from attitudes just two years ago, when China was seen as a potential partner in maintaining global rules and institutions following President Trump's election, the EU's executive arm labeled Beijing an "economic competitor" in critical fields such as the development of 5G networks and a "systemic rival" politically.

The assertions, made in a European Commission strategy paper that could stir unease among China's allies in the bloc, put Brussels' approach toward Beijing closer to the U.S. assessment of China as a major strategic rival.  Under Mr. Trump, U.S.-China ties have been roiled by trade fights, tensions over North Korea and Beijing's regional ambitions.

EU officials said European attitudes toward China had changed because of its failure to open its markets, its use of subsidies to create corporate champions, its actions in the South China Sea and its push for dominance in technology and telecommunications sectors.

"There is a growing appreciation in Europe that the balance of challenges and opportunities presented by China has shifted," the paper said.

It turns out all that China-love to Get Trump from Europe wasn't such a good idea.

More to the point, Trump was right all along about China and Europe is now coming around.

Maybe that's because China isn't the altruistic partner it says it is.  With a centralized society run by communists, even with some capitalist figments around the issue of trade, it just really never is all about trade.  China's giant, state-connected corporations, such as Huawei, seem to have a plan in place to spy on everyone who buys their products.  China's fishing boats, so innocent and cute, and supposedly just looking for a meal from the sea, are in reality a state instrument for takeover of the South China Sea, as was seen in the Philippines recently.  There's always a plan, and for China, that means by and for China alone.  Its "let's get rich together" sales pitch of the past decades is starting to look increasingly phony.

Meanwhile, China can get pretty vengeful against nations that dare to cross it by trying to enforce their own laws.  According to this column in today's Financial Times by Gideon Rachman:

Getting squeezed between Washington and Beijing can be very uncomfortable.  After Canada obeyed an American extradition request and arrested Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei, the Chinese response was fierce.  Within days, Canadian citizens were arrested in China, and Canadian executives are now wary of travelling there.  Similarly, when South Korea agreed to a US request to deploy an American anti-missile system called Thaad, Chinese tourists were directed away from South Korea and stores owned by Lotte, a South Korean retailer, were shut in mainland China after failing "safety inspections". 

Europe is looking at that and deciding that maybe using China as an ally isn't such a good idea.  The whole piece, by the way, despite a few mini-jabs at Trump, is worth reading.

Another problem, not mentioned in either piece, is China's takeovers of scruffy little third-world countries that have made messes of themselves through their adherence to anti-American socialism.  Nations such as Ecuador have found themselves basically giving away 80% of their country's oil to China in what must be the mother of all neo-imperialism, given the unequal treaties involved.

With 80% of Ecuador's oil spoken for, what does that leave for Europe's investors, who have real money to invest if the country ever shifts to market terms?  Pretty much nothing.  The territories are spoken for.  That puts a constraint on Europe's potential growth.

What it shows is that Europe has now gotten "woke" to the reality of China and its game.  When Europe wakes, it usually means the hour is late.  But better late than never.  Welcome back.

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