China: Expert fires warning over ‘divide and conquer strategy’
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Brussels stunned the Western world when it signed up to a new investment deal with Beijing just weeks before US President Joe Biden officially took up his seat in the White House. The move was perceived as a major snub towards the US, especially as Mr Biden had announced his intentions to work with the EU on a shared strategy towards China. Then this week, in his first presidential call with his Chinese counterpart, Mr Biden reportedly discussed his fears about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair economic practices”. The EU does not appear to have the same concerns.
The investment deal, which was seven years in the making, was reportedly pushed through due to Germany’s growing reliance on the Chinese market for its economy.
However, former Washington aide Peter Rough told Express.co.uk that while such a contract with China could provide short term economic relief to Germany in particular — the backbone of the whole EU — there could be serious consequences on the horizon.
He hinted that there was a much wider plan coming out of Beijing which the EU had yet to recognise.
In an exclusive interview, he explained: “Europe has grown so dependent on the Chinese market, but really what they’re doing is taking from a poisoned chalice.
“They’re taking this large gulp to keep themselves healthy in the short term, but in the long term, the Chinese are using all of these subversive methods to build up their own home industries.
“So by 2049, the goal will not be interdependence with Europe but autarky, where the Chinese companies hold all the risk to these high-end manufacturers.
“Then Europe is reduced to basically being a consumer market and rather than exporting to the Chinese consumer market, it will be China exporting to the EU.”
2049 is a significant milestone for China as it will mark 100 years of the nation’s communist rule.
The country’s reach within the EU — predominantly through Germany — has indeed grown substantially in recent years, and there are even plans to turn Duisburg into a Huawei smart city.
Huawei is China’s telecoms giant which almost had a hand in creating the UK’s 5G network, until Downing Street shut the company out over fears it would leak data back to Beijing and compromise Britain’s security system.
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel allegedly pushed for this draft law to go through despite facing two years of opposition on the matter from her own party, German intelligence agencies and key allies.
The EU as a whole does not appear to recognise any ulterior motives from China.
Mrs Merkel said this week that she was “so satisfied” with the investment agreement and looked forward to the opening up of “more predictable access to state-of-the-art technology” in China.
Mrs Merkel, arguably the most influential figure in the EU, is reportedly keen on maintaining a healthy relationship with China, regardless of its serious infringements on human rights in Hong Kong and Uighur, because of Beijing’s assistance with the financial crisis a decade ago.
Researcher Noah Barkin also claimed in Foreign Policy: “Her push to re-engage with Beijing on the investment agreement, climate change and other areas this year was an attempt to show that dialogue with the Chinese leadership still makes sense.”
Yet, Mr Rough told Express.co.uk that any collaboration — economic or otherwise — is unlikely to succeed.
He explained: “The reason that’s so worrying is China just has a fundamentally different vision of the world.”
He added that China will move “with ruthless brutality once they achieve dominance in a field” and “try to destroy the competition”.
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Yet, Mr Rough also suggested that there was a chance President Xi’s plan may not come to fruition.
While China has established dominance in some fields, such as artificial intelligence and computing, it has made a fundamental mistake, according to the commentator.
The commentator explained: “One of the big components of the [China] strategy was that the West wouldn’t really wise up to it.
“Xi gave this speech at Davos in 2017 that talked about win-win cooperation and how important interdependence is.
“Basically, everyone had their hearts set a flutter, and so nodded along at the idea of an interdependent global economy and that’s all great.
“In actual practice, the Chinese don’t actually keep up with that rhetoric.
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“They steal intellectual property which costs $100billions annually, just to take the American losses.
“I think President Xi and China have become much more aggressive in their actions over the last few years.
“In part because they think America might be in decline after the Iraq War and the financial crisis.
“One of the big problems they have is that the West is waking up to it — truly, Great Britain has woken up to China, I think the US has woken up to it.
“Parts of continental Europe have — I think the Czechs have, the Eastern Europeans.
“So yes, they’ve made great strides but part of their strategy is based on ‘hide your strength, bide your time’.
“I’m not sure they’ll be able to execute that.”
He speculated that when China’s plan eventually fails, it is likely to come down to President Xi’s decision to show his nation’s strength too early.
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