Why Europe shouldn’t fall for American hype against China’s belt and road plan
- The US is bent on discrediting China in Europe. It pressures allies not to buy Huawei technology but ignores claims it spied on Germany. And it condemns Chinese detention camps but forgets the havoc it has wrought after September 11
To gather national strength, just create an enemy. In Europe, the Americans are doing this daily on many levels, from small businesses to countries and the continent itself. It is apparent from the media coverage last year that China has been designated “the great danger”.
The strategy seems to be to spread insecurity, suspicion and falsehoods, and to threaten misery if countries fail to follow the US.
Few have spoken up for China in Europe, but let me raise some basic points.
First, China's development is rooted in more than 4,000 years of recorded history. It contains a basic concept that is diametrically opposed to the world view of the 242-year-old US, which has dominated the West since the end of the second world war.
Finally, when the West encounters resistance, it confronts or invades; China stops, waits and sees.
I have been visiting China every three months over the past three years and everywhere I have encountered a friendly, progressive, learning and developing nation. Most in the West imagine bicycles, rice fields and Mao when they think of China.
I see technological, infrastructure and management solutions that are far ahead of the West, almost on every level and in every field. I once said to a highly respected Chinese: “What is happening in China now is like a miracle.” The answer I got was: “No, no, this is hard work.”
It is crucial that the ongoing trade negotiations between the US and China end in an agreement, primarily for the two countries, but also for the rest of the world. If not, I’m afraid Europe will be disconnected from the opportunities generated by Chinese innovation; Europe could really become a museum.
The US does not understand that the Belt and Road Initiative comes from Chinese culture: the plan is about peace, trade, two-way exchanges of culture and education, and win-win solutions. This is classic sustainability and this is what the Chinese will focus on, no matter what happens.
Thore Vestby is a former member of the Norwegian Parliament and has been mayor for 12 years of Frogn municipality, outside Oslo