This is how the West will compete with the Chinese Silk Road

Biden and von der Leyen dusted off the US-EU Global Investment Program launched during the recent G7 as a counterpoint to the Chinese Silk Roads. The fear is that it could be another bombastic advertisement devoid of any real substance. If we want to compete with Chinese soft power, we have to start getting serious, adopting a strategic trade approach with emerging economies

During the G-20 summit in Bali, the President of the United States Joe Biden President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen They fired at Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII), a $600 billion plan to compete with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). PGII was already introduced during the last G7 summit.

Another risk for developing emerging economies is that it will not produce results that actually change the focus of global alliances.

It is certainly good news that Europe and the United States have decided to invest in the infrastructure of developing countries to compete with the GCC countries Soft power of the People’s Republic. China’s Belt and Road Initiative, despite many obstacles, setbacks, loans and repentances, continues its work of massive investments in ports, roads, railways and energy networks.

In contrast, projects such as American Rebuild a better worldor European Global Gateway Initiative They have not yet received particular results, nor particular enthusiasm in emerging economies. So remember the fact that Biden and von der Leyen’s speech is the only one Developing countries Indonesia and India, the first host of the G20, were China’s second enemy.

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Unfortunately, the West (and especially Europe) is very adept at announcing grandiose initiatives, but while in 2010-2013 the Chinese began to “throw concrete and steel” in Africa, the Indo-Pacific region and Southeast Asia, we did not pay much attention to the phenomenon, we find ourselves yet A few years, having to pursue her with vague promises.

The main accusation of the Belt and Road Initiative is the so-called “debt trap”, that is, China provides excessive loans to countries that are then unable to repay them, allowing Beijing to take national assets of various kinds in exchange for that. It happened among others in Sri Lanka, Montenegro and a number of African countries.

Expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Erin MurphyAnd the he claims That Western competitive advantage should be pursued in terms of quality, rather than in pursuit of the “quantity” of Chinese projects, which is perhaps too far fetched.

There is no doubt that the People’s Republic has a significant structural advantage, which is direct political control over the economy. Obviously, Brussels and Washington cannot force companies, even if they want to include the private sector in their global strategies. To tell the truth, PGII would like to introduce two new aspects, namely, attracting private investment and asserting being partnershipand not a group of individual national efforts.

as he points out The expert Kush ArhaFor this mechanism to work, a series of steps must be taken. First, a supranational agency should be appointed to represent each State Party and coordinate its work, as well as clearly define the goals and means for achieving them.

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Secondly, this body must carefully evaluate three main factors demand enginesThe host country’s demand for high-quality infrastructure; the demand for these assets by the private sector and the appreciation of investment returns; Finally, geopolitical considerations if the host country is located in a strategic quadrant (eg South Pacific Islands).

European initiatives include floating photovoltaic power plants in Albania and hydrogen projects in Namibia, Egypt, Kazakhstan, India and Chile, while US initiatives focus mainly on healthcare systems in countries such as Timor-Leste and Brazil.

Another crucial element for the West, and especially for Europe, is the memory of colonialism that is still very much alive. Beijing presents itself, especially on the African continent but not only, as an actor with no previous colonial experience, as well as one that promises mutual benefits rather than the resource plunder that many nations suffered from by the old powers.

In short, if you want to compete with China even in the aspect Soft power It’s time to get serious. It is extremely important that the West not lose ground, leaving China with ample room to maneuver over which countries will play important roles in our economic future.

It must be said of the European Union that it often finds itself hesitating between pursuing strategic economic choices and simply doing business. How Politico calledAn important step for Brussels could be the transfer of the responsibilities of the global portal from the Directorate General for International Partnerships to the External Action Service. This step may be a good message to show the strategic and not the purely commercial value that the initiative assumes for the Union, and to dedicate it to a service that deals with European foreign policy and not only economic exchanges.

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