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SHOULD WE TURN OUR BACK ON CHINA OR COOPERATE...

Translated Wednesday 1 November 2017

While the 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party is taking place - a major event because of its global repercussions - the moment is conducive to reflection on the way to go in Europe vis-à-vis this country - in all respects atypical. Let’s limit ourselves today to one area - but of huge importance! -: "The New Silk Roads" (1)
From the point of view of the potentialities that it conceals, this visionary and outsized project arouses our admiration and even our enthusiasm. Does it not concern more than 60 countries representing more than four billion inhabitants and nearly two-thirds of the wealth of the world? The immense network of civilian infrastructures that it proposes to carry out would be able to connect Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa- here by rail corridors of 10,000 to 15,000 km, and there by impressive sea routes! Designed properly, it can foster the development of cooperation on an unprecedented scale and contribute to the emergence of a more united and more friendly world. Wonderful challenge, then.
Some heralds of the "Western family" fear that this project will thwart US supremacy over the world. Argument inadmissible for progressives: we do not support the supremacy of any power whatsoever. Others blame China for thinking first of its own interests - seeking outlets, securing supplies. This objection also falls if co-operation is designed in such a way that the gains of one do not translate into a loss for the others - an essential principle which the Chinese explicitly state they accept in the negotiations to come. Finally, some business communities do not design "returns on investments" over 30 or 35 years, as is, in part, considered for these mega-sites: their small calculations of short-term profitability should not distract us from a vision of the future such as that offered by these titanic sites and the cultural and human relations that must accompany them!

On the other hand, let us take seriously the legitimate questions, such as the risk of a multiplication of acquisitions of strategic sectors by China (like the Greek port of Piraeus), or that of the exacerbation of competition in fields creating jobs (such as steel exports or high-tech products), and more generally the fear of social or environmental dumping. The acceptability of these "new roads" by the European citizens will determine the success of this great project! "We want to build win-win relationships with you," our Chinese friends tell us. So what to do? Dismissing this global initiative as did the main European countries, including France, by refusing to send high-level leaders to the recent International Forum to define the project’s contours in Beijing? Or, on the contrary, engage firmly in transparent negotiations, but for co-operation that is truly beneficial for all? To ask the question, is to answer it. We must seize this historic chance to change the course of globalization, in a more inclusive, more co-operative and more peaceful way! This may not be easy and will take time. As a Chinese saying goes, "patience is a bitter plant ... whose fruits are sweet".

Francis Wurtz, Honorary Member of the European parliament


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