How China Is Taking Over Europe’s Ports | CCP Trade, Economy, and Politics


Europe’s shipping ports are a big part of the region’s economy. And guess who’s been buying them up? China! Welcome back to China Uncensored. I’m Chris Chappell. No one loves money and business more than the Chinese Communist Party. For the past decade, they’ve been on a global investment spree. In 2013, Chinese leader Xi Jinping officially wrapped China’s state-sponsored investments into what he called the Belt and Road Initiative. Or, as it was initially known, One Belt, One Road to Bring Them All, and in the Darkness Bind Them. Xi Jinping is a big Lord of the Rings fan. Hilarious. Except that the taking over the world thing, is not actually a joke. “The Chinese are spending billions of dollars to build the basic infrastructure of a world they think they’re going to dominate. They say it clearly. 2030-2050 we will be the dominant force, so get ready for that.” Get ready for that, because it’s already
underway. In Europe, Chinese companies have bought stakes in 13
ports— all within the past decade. And as of 2019, Chinese state-controlled companies are handling 10 percent of Europe’s shipping container
traffic. Why isn’t this big news? Because—let’s be honest, you haven’t even heard of some of these
port cities. Like Le Havre— which I think is type of cheese? Or Bilbao, which is definitely Spanish for Bilbo Baggins, and Marsaxlokk?! That can’t be a real place, can it? Look, these cities aren’t exactly making headline news every night. And honestly, that’s kind of the point. Chinese investment in European ports has been a slow, quiet creep. Like Slender Man. But instead of abducting your children, he’s abducting Europe’s infrastructure. But what’s happening here is still im-port-ant. I’ll give an example. The port of Zeebrugge, in Bruges, Belgium. Not super exciting, I know. And that’s why very few people were paying attention when— in January 2018— a Chinese state-owned shipping company bought an 85% stake in Zeebrugge. I’m talking about COSCO— China Ocean Shipping Company. Not to be confused with COSTCO— where you go for groceries but end up buying 5 dozen pairs of Kirkland Signature underpants… that were probably delivered from China on a COSCO ship. Anyway, COSCO’s Chief Executive says the company has “big plans for Zeebrugge,” adding that “with this and other ports like
Piraeus, we want to build a bridge to Europe.” Yes, a bridge. Using ports. But there’s a problem with all that bridge
building: It’s making EU leaders a little nervous. In a 2017 state of the union speech, European Commission President Jean-Claude
Juncker expressed his concern about foreign takeovers. Just a year and a half later— that’s fast in European Union time— the EU council approved a new set of rules to screen foreign investments. Including new investments from China. But there are plenty of problems with the
investments Chinese companies have already made. Like how the Chinese regime is using Europe’s
ports to expand its political control. The author of “China’s Offensive in Europe” Philippe Le Corre said in a congressional
testimony that China’s Belt and Road Initiative “is primarily a Chinese project that will
help China expand its influence in the Eurasian region
and beyond.” I mean, if a foreign authoritarian regime controls your ability to import and export
goods, it has enormous power over you. Philippe Le Corre also noted that as China’s investments in European infrastructure have grown over the past few years, “China has demonstrated its ability to divide
Europeans.” For example, in 2016, a struggling Greece accepted 300 million dollars— in exchange for giving China’s state-owned
COSCO a majority stake in its Piraeus port. Piraeus is now the Chinese regime’s most important port in Europe. Less than a year later, the EU wanted to pass a statement condemning the Chinese regime’s crackdown on dissidents. And Greece was like, “Haha, what? China is so nice! We’re gonna veto that statement.” And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The Chinese Communist Party has created a special group called 16+1. That is, 16 countries in Central and Eastern
Europe plus China. These are the countries that are…ok, what’s a nice way to say this… not top travel destinations. The countries that you’re not really sure where they are on a map. Like Serbia, which we did a whole episode on a couple weeks
ago. After I looked up where it was. Anyway, the 16+1 group holds summits and promotes business with China. But according to the Financial Times, EU leaders in *Western* Europe— the travel destination countries— they’re worried about 16+1. Mostly about the +1 part. The monthly journal Europe Now reports that “16+1 could become a Trojan
horse for China to shatter the bloc’s unity in sensitive areas ranging from the single
market to foreign investment vetting.” The worry is China controls so many of Europe’s
ports— as well as other stuff— that it could use that as leverage to play EU member countries against each other… to change European laws it doesn’t like. In fact, that’s already happened. Remember how I said the EU approved a framework to screen foreign direct investments? Well guess what? That framework doesn’t actually have an enforcement mechanism. After the screening process, each country still gets to completely decide
on its own if it wants to let Chinese investment in. Which is a bit like having a police officer ordering a suspect to “Stop, or I’ll say stop again!” Works every time. And that weakness in the framework is largely thanks to Chinese pressure. According to the Financial Times, “China’s lobbying has already proved effective in diluting the proposed review process.” And in a policy briefing last year, the European Parliament Research Service noted
that “China has made major inroads into the EU by acquiring minority stakes in port infrastructure of strategic relevance for China. Hence, China is increasingly able to shape
outcomes in its interest from within the EU.” Last year, French President Emmanuel Macron said, “China won’t respect a continent, a power, when some member states let their doors freely
open.” And like momma always said, “Don’t ever be with a man who doesn’t
respect you.” So what do you think about the Chinese regime buying up strategic ports and building a bridge
to Europe? Leave your comments below. And if you’d like to learn more about what happens after the Chinese regime takes over your ports, check out the episode we did on Greece and
Piraeus. I’ll put a link to that episode in the description
below. And before we go, it’s time to answer a question from a fan who supports China Uncensored through the crowdfunding website Patreon. David Michael White asks: “Chris, which film of the Back to the Future
trilogy is your favorite?” Well, David, it’s obviously the one where they travel to the past: October 21, 2015. “You mean we’re in the future?” It’s the past future I always imagined we wouldn’t have. Flying cars. Jackets that dry themselves. Nausea-inducing fashion trends. Well, we do have that one. But anyway, Back to the Future Part II is definitely the best of the trilogy. In fact, back in 2015, my producer Matt and I actually did a video
about 10 things Back to the Future Part II got right and posted it on our channel. I know, you’re wondering what it had to
do with China. And the answer is…absolutely nothing. But we really, really wanted to do that video for some reason. And it got more views than this video ever
will. I’ll put that link in the description below,
too. I wonder which one people will watch: An episode about Greek debt or Back to the
Future. Hmmm. Thanks for your question, David. And thank you to the more than 2,000 of you who support China Uncensored through the crowdfunding website Patreon. Most of our revenue comes through your direct contributions. So thank you for helping us pay our staff and keep the lights on. Once again, I’m Chris Chappell. See you next time.

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