Friday, June 19, 2015

China is outflanking Russia in the struggle to woo Europe

Olivia Gippner, Cristian Nitoiu,

Wait till Vladimir hears about this. EPA/Andy Wong

Extract from article:
Unlike Russia, the Chinese have no particular ideological problem with the European Union’s multinational project – just so long as it does not challenge China’s sovereignty or its political system.
Russia’s preference for bilateralism has deep ideological roots. Russia’s dislike of what it perceives as the Western-led liberal world order makes the European Commission an undesirable partner for Moscow.
Instead of offering preferential energy and trade deals to EU countries and fostering competition among them, Russia is now trying to undermine the EU by using influence and “public diplomacy” – which might less euphemistically be called propaganda.

Propaganda push

Moscow is openly supporting eurosceptics, nationalists and far-right movements across the EU – and the results are plain to see. French and British figures such as Marine Le Pen and Nigel Farage have become strong advocates for business as usual with Russia and for taking its ideological concerns seriously. They’ve been warmly received in the Russian media in return.
Moscow has also been promoting its ideological grievances very skilfully through the use of the Russia Today TV channel, and NGOs too have been recruited into the Russian efforts to promote an alternative, ideologically infused version of events in Europe. But Russia’s ideological push has not had the intimidating effect the Kremlin hoped for, instead binding the EU closer together and undermining the economic ties that Russia endeavoured to forge with the big three over the last decade.
China’s pragmatism is winning. With the Ukraine crisis putting a torch to Euro-Russian relations, Chinese investment in Europe has soared to $18 billion in 2014, while bilateral trade exceeded $615 billion – and a new EU-China investment treaty is now being negotiated.
So while China can’t match Russia’s main exports of gas, oil, and caviar to Europe, Beijing has been adept at exploiting the collapse in Russia’s political partnerships – and the EU’s major players are under pressure to rethink their priorities.

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