Poland’s Internal Affairs Minister, Joachim Brudziński called on the European Union and Nato to take a “joint stance” on the Chinese company, saying that a discussion was needed on whether to exclude Huawei from some markets.
Chinese commercial activities in the European Union have a long history stretching for decades. It started with the first caravans of Chinese immigrants opening shops of low quality and cheap Chinese products in nearly every EU city. This was followed by a period of ‘gold fever’ that presented China as a new ‘El Dorado’ and the Chinese state as at least naïve and keen to be exploited by clever Westerners.
Finally, there was the new ‘Silk Road’ dream, or better yet, the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative, which brought both Chinese products and capital into the heart of the EU.
Chinese capital met the European industry – thirsty for money and markets – and Chinese investments targeted structurally important areas, such as the Piraeus port in Greece.
During this period, Chinese trade and economic activities were welcomed by Europeans without reservations. Even European conservative leaders like the then UK Prime Minister David Cameron were all mesmerised by China and the benefits of trade with this Asian giant.
This permitted the building of a powerful pro-China lobby in EU, which much like a spider web captured EU member states public opinion.
Business people, academics, scientists and politicians were regularly invited to conferences and on professional trips to China where officials propagated the new ‘Chinese miracle’.
A Questionable Flexibility
Because of this, many EU countries applied a questionable flexibility in the market of ‘golden visas’ acquired by Chinese citizens.
Chinese businessmen invested, practically without control, in real estate markets, pushing prices to unrealistically high levels which ultimately proved detrimental for the local communities.
Investments in Airbnb systems provoked deep changes in many European cities as well though it is still too early to calculate the catastrophic results. What is certain, however, is that these types of investments are violating tourist laws and tax payments are being avoided.
The impact of this Chinese presence in politics and on the societies in Central Asia, in South Asia and in Africa, was not taken into account. The fact that the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative is designed to establish Beijing centred trade routes was of little concern.