According to the German newspaper Handelsblatt, 27 of the 28 European ambassadors to Beijing released a report warning their respective governments about the Chinese project of the new Silk Roads, highlighting its possible lack of transparency and criticizing the predominance of Chinese interests in this project.
The main European leaders, however, have talked in positive terms about Europe’s participation in the BRI, but most leaders including Theresa May, Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, Mark Rutte, called on China to respect the principle of reciprocity and to open China’s economy and all BRI projects to European companies to fight protectionism.
This document is presented as an NO from Europe to China about the BRI. However, in reality, this position of Europe may be the sign that on the contrary, things are moving on this issue and its shows a possible future cooperation on the new Silk Roads.
Until now, the European Union seemed divided on this subject, and each country prefered to deal directly with China, simply to attract more Chinese investments. China, it must be said out, was suspected of wanting to take advantage of divisions among European Union members to advance its own interests, but China also asked for more clarity from the EU states to strengthen the BRI.
The European reaction also has the merit of allowing China to redefine the BRI and fight against fantasies related to the new Silk Roads. As President Xi Jinping said at the Boao Asia Forum on April 10, 2018, the BRI is neither a Chinese plot nor a new Marshall Plan; it is not about ideology. The Chinese president insisted on the open aspect of this program and invited the entire international community to work with China.
With the rise of protectionism and the trade war with the United States, Beijing is keen to respond to European fears and better define the BRI. Facing European questions, China seems to be trying to adopt a more instructive approach of the BRI to better present this concept to the world.
After making some reservations about the BRI, it is time for European Union states to make some proposals about the new Silk Roads and thus appear as a trustworthy and constructive partner for China. Europe must now define a action plan to fully cooperate with China, as well as with other BRI states such as Pakistan or Bangladesh to advance this project, which, with or without the participation of Europe, will be one of the major development programs in the coming years.