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As Chinese investment pours into the EU, the Europeans are beginning to worry (economist.com)
164 points by 4684499 on Oct 9, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 201 comments



I highly recommend Yannis Varoufakis' books, especially Adults in the Room. Varoufakis was the Syriza finance minister who resigned when Tsipras caved to Eurogroup pressure to accept another "extend-and-pretend" bailout (as in, extend the debt maturity, pretend that Greece will be able to pay when it comes due). At one point, as Varoufakis tells it, the Chinese informally committed to provide a large investment that would have allowed Greece to exert more bargaining power vs. the Eurogroup in debt negotiations. It was a good deal for Greece and China, but someone in the EU bureaucracy pressured China not to go forward with the deal -- the reason being that the Eurogroup wanted to preserve its own power to force extreme austerity on Greece in perpetuity.

Now of course this is just regurgitating Varoufakis' description, but I find it rather compelling. China is only a small player in the Greek debt drama, but it seems to me that they are one of the few friends that Greece has that is both willing and able to play a helpful role.

(But limited by political considerations within Europe itself!)


> China is only a small player in the Greek debt drama, but it seems to me that they are one of the few friends that Greece has that is both willing and able to play a helpful role.

Is/was their role charitable because they are nice guys? or is there something there for them also? I would imagine that they had a long view and would have really liked to get control of Greece as a gateway to Europe by taking advantage of the Greek financial crisis. I don't believe China has any friends, just business partners they cooperate with to benefit them in the end.


Yes, I'm sure you are correct. Saying a country is a "friend" is a poor metaphor, in the world of realpolitik. But Varoufakis certainly appeared to view China as a helpful partner, whatever state interests were advanced on the Chinese side. Of course even "charity" in the form of direct aid is never without strings of dependency, other geopolitical aspects.


And Africa, the pacific and everywhere else. No doubt the long term goal is to colonize the world.

And they’re clever enough to do it slowly, lots of small transgressions, giving each time to be accepted before moving on to the next quiet domination. Perfect example is taking control of the South China Sea.

And they’re smart enough to colonize in the most modern of ways...... buy the politicians and thereby remove all possibility of government resistance.


Why do you use the word 'colonize'? That's most definitely not the aim. China wants access to resources on competitive and secure (for them) terms, without having to worry about governing foreign territories. (notably except the territories China considers historically hers, such as HK, Xinjiang, Taiwan and Tibet). China only cares about foreign governments to the extent they may block China's ability to buy resources. But as long as China can buy the resources it needs unencumbered it's shown no interest in domestic issues overseas.


I don't necessarily agree with the term 'colonize' here, but if you buy resources and depend on them, you would definitely want to control as much as possible the territories the resources are coming from. Especially if they are currently governed by weak and unstable governments. It's state-level risk management 101.


A weak government is easy to buy. The less "skin in the game" China has, the more easily it can buy the favor of whoever is in power. The only way China could screw up that dynamic is by overplaying its hand through excessively unfavorable credit terms or starting projects in said country (such as outsourcing production) that draws the ire of the local population. Granted, that is happening in some places


I think China is worth a shot on Africa and perhaps also on Afganistan. US/EU didnt't fix the major issues(i.e poverty& education). Even more U.S is sending a clear message that it's no longer interested in supporting other countries unless they pay so I don't see why the world would not wellcome China's initiative.


What's your reaction to http://archive.is/0bLXL ? It was posted here on HN three days ago.


I'm not the one you are answering to, but if you check the data, the poverty reduction is, mainly, due to China and some to India.

They did it by not following the recommendations for development of the IMF and the World Bank (that are, basically, American institutions).


Sure, I've seen that. No disagreement in that are. However, you can see both poverty reduction and improved education almost everywhere, even in countries where that's made mode difficult by steep population growth.

Look at this, for example (GP mentioned both poverty and education so I was curious and went to look at the second of the two): https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/primary-enrollment-select... Niger is far behind Hungary and the UK, but Niger's curve doesn't look like failure to me, it looks like a success starting later than the others on the graph, and all the more impressive considering Niger's population growth. Faster growth than Hungary despite despite population growth.

I'm perplex. There's a general argument, GP's is an example, that goes a little like this: "(something) may be the best ever, but it's (a failure/not good enough/...) and it's clear that (someone else/another approach/...) will achieve much better results". I don't see that it's clear not at all. But I don't see that GP is stupid either. So... I'm perplex. What is it I'm missing about GP's comment?


Obviously I can't tell what GP means, but I can try to explain my position.

you say: 'will achieve much better results". I don't see that it's clear not at all.'

If you check the policies promoted from the international institutions (and those are, in essence, a product of the USA) they are the opposite of what the developed countries did to be developed. Check Ha-Joon Chang(1) work for a study of this.

Of course, the issue is very complex, but a case could be made, that the small development we see in those countries is despite the American order, instead of because of it.

That's before even talking about all the invasions and coups in countries that didn't follow the interest of USA capital.

A country is not developed by opening its markets, don't protecting its industry and "specializing" in exporting their natural resources, but by stability and investment.

So, from the point of view of small countries, what is the problem with changing masters?

And China is, for now, really investing. For instance, check your example, Niger: https://www.businessinsider.com/niger-oil-and-chinese-invest...

Of course China is just following their interest, but so do the Americans.

(1)-https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ha-Joon_Chang


With your definition of "colonize", the US has already colonized the whole world.


The US inherited its superpower role by default, due to the destruction that occurred in WW2. It was the last power standing and had the resources to expand into the vacuum left behind. It didn't seek that status out, it was dropped in the US lap. Nobody would have defined the US as a global superpower in 1930. The US had to be pulled out of its shell for WW2 (a shell a sizable percentage of the population would like to return to now). The reason the US positioned its large troop contingent in Europe and formed NATO, was due to WW2 and the cold war that followed, trying to hold off the Soviet Union from further annexation of Europe. The politicians in DC are now interested in preserving that superpower status of course, long after the death of the USSR.

China is aggressively seeking that superpower global positioning, at a time of peace between great nations. They're not inheriting a position of power by default, they're strategically trying to acquire it - a very different context. They have a multi-decade plan to build military bases all over the planet, to enable global power projection. They've openly stated that it's their destiny to become the global power - it's a wide-spread cultural belief that has been written about ad nauseam for two decades - supplanting the United States.


Even if superpower status was dropped in the US' lap post-ww2, I think it's hard to argue they've worked extremely hard to maintain sole superpower status from the cold war onwards.

All the assets you say China is planning to build (military bases, economic control and political clout) have been very, very forcefully acquired by the US.


What's your point? That China's current behaviour is somehow 'worse' than US Realpolitik? Obviously I'm happy the cold war went the way it did, but let's not pretend the US didn't have to break eggs to make its omelette.


The US broke a lot of eggs post 1950, that's pretty well been written about ad nauseam as well - it's universally understood.

The point is, acquiring the power that China wants, at a time of peace, while other great powers exist, requires an entirely different effort than having superpower status dropped into your lap by the default of everyone else having been blown up. China has to take that power away from other existing powerful nations, with economies that are essentially all at or near all-time highs in terms of output. If China is serious about becoming the global power, they have to go through the US and EU to do it in one manner or another. That sets up a very large global clash of cultures, clashes regarding beliefs in governance, notions about individual liberty, democracy, etc. etc. The US and Western Europe were far more aligned in ideology in the post WW2 era than what China & the EU are today. China and the EU are near polar opposites, with the EU being liberal and China being hyper regressive and authoritarian. The point is, that clash isn't going to go well, the US was welcomed into Europe due to its protector status in and after WW2 and because of its ideological and historical kinship with Europe. America in 1945 was a cousin to Europe, consisting of large parts of Europeans and European culture; China is an entirely foreign element, with very little shared in any regard.


I don't think it's a zero sum game. Just because country A becomes more powerful doesn't mean country B must be less powerful.

Countries rise in power together all the time.

Look at Asia and Europe in the last couple decades.

Also I think you exaggerate the differences between the West and China. The US these days is by no means a beacon of liberty and fairness. And China is no Taliban-level opressor. Yes, there's quite a lot of poor behaviour on their part but I see it as roughly the same order of magnitude as most non-european countries.

The Chinese people are idealogicially pretty damn similar to the rest of us, that is, they're human.

As for their government, on the global stage they're being far more cooperative and rational than the US is these days, even if they're being pushy in their neighbourhood.

Also, come to think of it, it's the US declaring illegal wars recently with hundreds of thousands dead and you know, causing ISIS. What did China do that compared to that?


That said, there's the legitimately terrifying oppression of the Uyghurs, and the filtering of any information the government doesn't find supportive enough of their regime


The pitch black comedy in retrospect is the US was dashing eggs all over other people's counters while the USSR had a heart attack while frantically trying to pretend it was an almighty chef who would render them obsolete. All of its sins were completely unnecessary and created problems for the future.


> (a shell a sizable percentage of the population would like to return to now)

That “now” has been lasting for at least as long as since 1981, according to the lyrics of “B Movie” from Gil Scott-Heron's album “Reflections” (1981):

http://lyrics.wikia.com/wiki/Gil_Scott-Heron:B_Movie


Aside: the US also had to be dragged into WW I, see e.g. [1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_entry_into_World_War_...


The politicians were against isolationism at that time. However even with your explanation it doesn't explain the fact they destroyed Vietnam in order to prevent the spread of communism. There is no rational world where the country was a threat to the US homeland - even if allied to the USSR. It was however a threat to US global power.


China has been continuously shafted for the last 200 years.

They have just finally put their foot down and are learning from the West how it's done. A case in point is the South China Sea: They know that the best claim is the 'fait accompli', that's how the West did 'colonize the world' and it's telling that the only remaining land available are a few islands and reefs in the South China Sea. These are the crumbs we left over.


Exactly, I'm a citizen of one of the countries in southeast Asia not involved with the whole south China sea tussle and it's amazing how skewed the reporting has been regarding the issue in the English language media. Going by those reports, you would think that it's only China that has been claiming everybody's else's territories and nothing else.

But the truth is everyone in the region is claiming everyone else's territories. Vietnam is claiming Philippine territory, and vice versa. Malaysia snatched Brunei's islands several years ago and so on. And you would think that China is the most aggressive in grabbing islands judging by those reports. But the actual fact is that honour goes to Vietnam. It has grabbed the most contested islands in the South China sea and theyre the earliest to militarise them but I don't hear a single word of this in the English media. As if some narrative is being pushed.


In terms of the South China Sea, everyone wants to "colonize" that area from China, Vietnam to the Phillipenes.

For Africa, if you're referring to "debt trap diplomacy", you know what's an easy solution? Stop taking Chinese money and loans. Problem solved.



Sometimes it's hard to tell when propaganda begins and ends.

10 years ago, the media was scaremongering over chinese investment in brazil. I remember thinking that china was buying brazil and then I found out that the largest foreign investors in brazil was the US and the netherlands and china was a distant third. Don't remember reading articles about how we were taking over brazil or how the dutch were though.

5 years ago, the media was scaremongering over chinese investment in africa. Oh no, china is taking over africa. Turns the largest investor in africa was the EU by far and that european business dominated the african market. Also, there was hysteria over china leasing farmland in africa. Turns out the saudis, koreans and a bunch of other countries also lease land all over the world.

Now it's the chinese investment in the EU. Nevermind that the EU is a much larger economy than china and the EU invests far more in china than vice versa. I mean come on.



>Last year Greece stopped the European Union from criticising China’s human-rights record at a UN forum. Hungary and Greece prevented the EU from backing a court ruling against China’s expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Maybe if the EU hadn't forced Greece to sell their largest port to the highest bidder they'd do better. Some German lobbyists thought they'd get it for pennies, then the Chinese stepped in and bought it for a half-decent price. Also Greece, Hungary and Czech Republic would be much fonder of the "European" side (a euphemism for "Franco-German Bank interests" at this point) if they weren't treated like second-class colonies to be milked and dumped to the trash.

I can assure you that the cental European lobbies will abuse the periphery up until the very last drop of patience runs out.

In this case, they lost a piece of the carcass they were tearing up because they were too sure no other preditors were around. But if they keep pushing the smallest countries this way, nobody will care about allegiance to "Europe" (whatever that means) in the future. I wish the US would step in and stop them from destroying the EU, but I guess they don't care much, which is disappointing.


I think the real issue is that we still talk about small countries instead of small states with the same European citizens. There wouldn't be such a big issue if a corporation from CA(i.e Apple) were to buy the Long Beach port or some big factories from Detroit, MI. I may be wrong but I believe China is not paying only for the value of the asset itself. It's also paying to get better access to the EU market and/or even buying political support from Greece, a kind of "strategic aquisition"


I have to disagree with 2 parts about your argument. One is that centralization and capital concentration isn't a problem. The other is that the origin of ownership is irrelevant. That's also not true.

If interests of one region buy up all the production of another, they inevitably move all production to one place, their original base. Ports, mines and railways are a generally an exception to a the rule, but still lots of positions on management, engineering, logistics etc are lost in the selling country/region and moved to the buying one.

To elaborate on the US-EU analogy:

In US, some regions concentrate more wealth and power than others, having the majority of production and/or headquarters based there. But in the US there's real freedom of movement. You can work in Montana one day, move to Florida the next, and it's no big deal. The residents of economically disadvantaged areas have to carry the burden of moving away for work, but that's the only burden they face.

In the EU there are 24 official languages. Simply put, you can't just move anywhere you'd like to be. Learning a new language takes many years. I've been using English almost daily for 10+ years and I still come across new words quite often. Primarily due to this reason, in the EU, freedom of movement is allowed only on paper. Workers from disadvantaged areas have to take on a huge burden if they decide to move. They have to learn a new language, a new tax system, a new everything from workplace H&S rules to mains outlet types. Also they often face a lot of discrimination (even if language skills aren't a dead giveaway, ethnic differences are usually visible to us, even if they would seem minute to an American). So essentially when a factory moves from Italy or Slovenia to Germany, the locals lose a lot more than just the inconvenience of having to move across a couple states for work.


The tax system and H&S rules are not such a big issue. They are different in the US as well. The language is an issue and without a common/EU language or some tech innovation there is no way to fix it completely.


The Czech president, Milos Zeman, wants his country to be China’s “unsinkable aircraft-carrier” in Europe.

I understand a fuller quote is "an unsinkable aircraft carrier of Chinese investment expansion". We have not yet reached the point where the ambition of European countries is to become a military base for China.


No, it's just the US still that has that privilege, with military bases all over Europe and direct involvement in European politics ever since WWII (and even before).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Gladio for some of the most shameless cases...


> for some of the most shameless cases

And serving as a buffer against the territorial ambitions of the USSR for 45 years, for one of the least shameful cases ...


Most of the bases were well welcomed during the cold war. NATO has probably done just as much to insure peace inside it's countries as the EU has.

cronz on Oct 9, 2018 [flagged]

No offence but that's just laughable. You just have to look at the Balkans right now. Ham-fisted is an understatement.


Yeah, I don’t think it’s historically accurate to compare the contributions of the EU and NATO to peace and security in Europe. These are entirely the work of NATO. The EU is made possible by the Pax Americana.


Pax Atomica.

I am sure there would not be any peace if the USA was the only country with nukes.


Sorry, what? One war in Europe in 70 years and somehow that's ham-fisted?


I think the parent was referring to the Balkan wars in the 90s, which still affect people's lives now.


It's not the Balkan wars of the 90s that are affecting people's lives today, it's a very old perpetual conflict of culture. That was the cause of the Balkan war in the first place. That conflict will never cease, it's a perma friction between very different cultures that largely don't like each other.


First, what makes you think there could have been other wars?

Second, do you really think that the solution that was given in the Balkans is good? Even today, many people are deeply unhappy about it.


> Second, do you really think that the solution that was given in the Balkans is good? Even today, many people are deeply unhappy about it.

If all sides are a bit unhappy it probably was a very good compromise.


Europe has a long history of warfare that seemed to have halted around the NATO. I think the presence of a strong military alliance and the presence of peace have a high probability of being connected.


A strong external military force, along with the devastation of European countries with global ambitions in WWII (UK, French, Germany, and co), means there were neither resources nor reason for war in Europe for most of the 20th century. Heck, for most of that time Germany was still split in two.

USSRs occupation of the other half also kept "peace" there (and in conflict between the two sides would have escalated to a full global war, which was in nobody's interest).

Yugoslavia for example was only a state because the different nations were kept under the same rule. When that rule was gone, 60 years of "living together" didn't do anything to prevent ethnic tensions.

How things shape in 10 or 20 years is anybody's guess.


> there were neither resources nor reason for war in Europe for most of the 20th century

The ambitions of the USSR were a reason for war and they had plenty of military resources.


>The ambitions of the USSR were a reason for war and they had plenty of military resources.

Actually history has shown that they didn't.



Sorry, I've lost the thread of the argument.

The original claim was that "NATO has probably done just as much to insure peace inside it's countries as the EU has.". The counterpoint was that the Balkan wars invalidated this claim. My response was that a single war in 70 years is hardly evidence against the original claim.

What's your line of argument here?


>Sorry, I've lost the thread of the argument.

I didn't respond to the "thread of the argument" above, I responded directly to the smaller point made in your comment.

My point regarding the whole argument is in my longer comment above.


They had all the resources to wreak havoc, occupy and keep hundreds of millions in factory-feudalism. They would have drafted half the world to wage their wars if necessary.


> what makes you think there could have been other wars?

Military buildup in Europe during 1945-1991, the vast scale of which dwarfs anything ever seen on planet earth.


That's an intense exaggeration. The military deployment in Europe during WW2 was drastically beyond anything that existed during the Cold War. The US had 16 million people that served in the armed forces during WW2. Roughly more Americans died fighting that war, than were stationed in Europe during the Cold War at a given time (average was about 330k from 1950 to 1990).

The military deployments in Asia from 1930-1945 were larger than anything Europe saw from 1945-1991, by several fold. China alone had roughly four million soldiers active at the end of WW2. Japan had millions of soldiers and civilians stationed in China at the time they surrendered.

About ten million military personnel died in WW1. That one point alone puts to shame the scale of the Cold War. The US, Russia, British Empire, France, Italy mobilized nearly 40 million military forces during WW1. The Cold War was tiny by comparison. France by itself had 1.3 million soldiers killed. Russia had five million wounded soldiers. Including the two sides, over 60 million military personnel were involved in WW1.


Thank you for tempering my overreaction to cronz's question. It seems I couldn't respond to the question "what makes you think there could have been other wars?" without exaggerating to make my point.


Which one? The one in Bosnia that NATO stopped or the one in Kosovo that NATO stopped?


>Most of the bases were well welcomed during the cold war

Only if you never bothered to ask the center- and left-inclined population of each country (which was quite substantial) -- and ignored the protests against them.

And with the help of a few interventions (e.g. in Italy) and dictatorships (e.g. in Greece) imposed when needed to keep some pro-US goons in government.


As a Czech citizen I only regret the bases were not built a few hundered kilometers more to the east. Forty years under Russian influence were devastating to my country.


Of course, we are now beginning to understand just how good the Russians are at agitprop, misdirection, false-flag rabble-rousing, and general social subversion.

Just how much of the European "protest culture" of the 1970s and 1980s actually grew organically, without covert Soviet backing?


Soviets did back leftist movements across western Europe, and CIA backed dissent in eastern Europe. And each were trying to eliminate other's pawns in the game. So what? This never starts in vacuum, no protest movement gains momentum in a happy population.


Zero.


OK, that's one vote for 'zero', from a place that didn't allow the people to vote at all during the time period in question. Anyone else?


Ad-hominem fallacy. The fact that some people didn't were allowed to choose politics in some time somewhere (like for example all women in Europe and USA until the last generations), does not imply that their opinion about a political theme is automatically tainted, wrong or insignificant.


>Just how much of the European "protest culture" of the 1970s and 1980s actually grew organically, without covert Soviet backing?

A, yes, it was the Russians all along, which, retroactively also proves that they control the world now from some building in St. Petersburg. And when they get some friendly lackey in power like Yeltsin again and be buddies and everything, there will be another enemy du jour, arabs (just not the Saudis) are good for that.

It's not like there ever was a very strong European left movement (or an American one for that matter), or that people in different countries in Europe have devoted their lives, risked careers, gone to prison, even tortured or executed for being pro-communist (or perhaps they did all that because they were paid)...


> ... people in different countries in Europe have devoted their lives, risked careers, gone to prison, even tortured or executed for being pro-communist

Or, if they happened to be in Eastern Europe, for being anti-communist... funny how that works.


Well, the grass is always greener. Funny also how many ex-eastern blocers say they preferred those times though...


Only ironic if you discount nostalgia from every generation. I too prefer the social media-and-screen-free life of Cold War America, with the closer and stricter family structure that existed then. But I would not trade the mobility, agency, choice, and convenience of the modern age for those rosy memories.

I say categorically: no non-ideological ex-Eastern Blocer wishes to return to the lower standard of living and simple lack of options imposed by Soviet rule, regardless of what hardship the iron fist of US hegemony imposes.


Unfortunately our president is not really competent anymore and his view of our country being the base for China's investment in Europe is wishful thinking. His advisor, CEO of CEFC (China's conglomerate) was arrested for money laundering and other crimes, conglomerate itself gets rolled into another conglomerate structure and most of the assets were liquidated. Sure there might be other funds comming soon, but it seems unlikely.


Please keep in mind he is just an old grumpy man who is slowly losing his facilities. i.e. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-44494476


I only really have visibility of this from the football side of China's Czech investment, but this aircraft carrier has experience some stormy waters, to say the least:

https://thesefootballtimes.co/2018/08/22/aston-villa-slavia-...


> Secondly, Putin also said that he considered Crimea as a "fortress" and "unsinkable aircraft carrier," located in NATO's southern “underbelly.”


"Last year Greece stopped the European Union from criticising China’s human-rights record at a UN forum. Hungary and Greece prevented the EU from backing a court ruling against China’s expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea. Faced with such behaviour, it is only prudent for Europeans to be nervous."

Well that's one way of saying thanks for all those bailouts they received...


I hope you are being ironic. The EU and the IMF pretty much screwed up Greece, this has even been admitted by the IMF themselves.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnmauldin/2016/08/23/jthe-imf...

So I'm honestly not surprised that they turn to China, maybe the EU should treat their own countries decently (and I say this as a non-Greek EU citizen).


Greece screwed up Greece before they even joined the eurozone. They weren't even eligible for that but still managed to do so by cooking the books (with the help of the likes of Goldman Sachs etc).


Which was well known to the EU, happy to have them on board regardless. Expansion at any cost.


And they were hoping it would be fixed, which obviously didn't happen. So to be fair You can't solely blame EU for that.


The same reason much of the corruption is tolerated in Eastern Europe. Expansion at all costs -- must have a buffer between Russia.


Na, I don't think Russia played into this all that much. Excessive ambition, overzealous idealism, and internal politics were much more relevant. Don't forget that when these decisions were made Russia wasn't perceived to be the threat it's seen as today, at least not by the EU of that day. E.g. poland joined in 2004, but much of the talks were in the 90s- and thus in an era when Russia was far from threatening. Putin didn't become president until 2000. So while the EU certainly wasn't looking for a buffer, it's much more plausible that the new members were less sanguine about future Russia (and how right they were), thus seeking to cement their independence from the USSR.

It's somewhat ironic, for instance, to consider that it was the UK that particularly pushed for expansion. Not only did they lobby hard internally beforehand, they were (IIRC?) only EU country to immediately grant free immigration from the new members, without any transition period - how times change!


Ireland also did this. Mind you, they probably just copied whatever the UK was doing, as was the style of the times (spare a thought for the poor Irish public servants, who will be forced to transpose their own European directives into law from next year, rather than just copying the UK).


I suppose it depends of your definition of screwed up.

The emigration, life expectancy, and growth data don't say that. Not even the public debt data say that.


It seems I'm being down-voted.

I will clarify in case the reason is that I didn't explain myself properly: the data don't say that Greece screwed up so much before the current crisis.

It has been always a country with problems but the statistics were improving until they get "rescued".


A whole generation's life chances ruined across several countries?


If you’re looking for someone who came out of the Greece/EU saga looking good, you probably won’t find it.

The Greeks themselves somehow made a society with a shocking amount of tax dodging.

The Greek government allowed this, and lied its ass off while applying to the EU.

The EU either didn’t do due diligence or didn’t care. Once the time bomb did it’s inevitable thing, they were “shocked” and proceeded to punish Greece with forced austerity measures.

EU citizens from their part expressed some pretty ugly sentiments against the Greeks, IIRC.

Pretty much everyone came out of this looking far worse.


> The Greek government allowed this

To understand the tax mentality of Greeks, it's worth pointing that not a single Greek government existed in modern history that didn't have multiple corruption scandals and blatant misspending/mismanagement incidents come to light. And only a small percentage of those incidents probably ever came into light. The last two generations got used to knowing that tax money vanish into a black hole, needless public sector hires, ridiculous under-the-table contracts, etc, all while the public health system was suffering to the extent that bribing the doctors to receive decent service became the norm. That practice extended everywhere: you'd bribe for your driving license or you'd likely fail even if you did everything right, you'd bribe the tax inspectors or you'd face fines even if everything was in order, etc. Not saying that this makes tax evasion a good thing but it does feed some interesting thoughts about how hard it is to change a system that keeps mishandling tax money while failing the people and how the natural urge of the people in these cases is to just avoid contributing into it however they can.


Indeed. As I said, nobody came out looking clean.

I think the kindest thing you could say is that the Greek populace basically gave up on good governance and decided to make do with what they had, which is kind of damning with faint praise.


Greece pretty much screwed up Greece.

Source: I'm Irish, we screwed up Ireland.


Hot money flowing into a country does crazy things to it. It takes both an irresponsible borrower and an irresponsible lender to make an irresponsible deal.


Ireland was surely screwed up by loose Eurozone monetary policy in the middle of its massive housing bubble.


There are ways to mitigate that - e.g. increased taxes based on land value and stronger legislation around lending. Trouble is, rising house prices are more popular to politically powerful groups.


Yeah, can’t really see that being politically viable.


Yep


Ireland could hardly pursue appropriate monetary policy as a member of the currency union. Euro monetary policy is totally driven by Germany's needs. So are we saying that the real screw-up was joining the currency union?


Yes all this "news" we're hearing this morning on this topic is just Germany realizing that Greece have decided they prefer an abusive relationship with China to their previous abusive relationship with Germany. Germany protests!


Yeah, good luck when the Chinese will confiscate your assets.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/12/world/asia/sri-lanka-chin...

Make a list of islands you want to give away for 99 years.


Yeah, unemployment at 40%, massive GDP drops, German banks happy, all kinds of anti-labour laws passed, exorbitant taxation, 5% of the most productive/young population left the country to work abroad, political supervision, those Greeks sure benefited much by those bailouts.

https://eu.usatoday.com/story/money/2015/08/11/greece-debt-c...

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-eurozone-bailouts-idUSBRE...

https://global.handelsblatt.com/finance/germany-profits-from...


I'm personally not exactly happy how the EU handled Greece, especially the harsh social consequences on its citizen that the EU could have smoothed and the lack of proper management of Greece "creative" accounting that let Greece join the EURO.

But the EU did not cause the massive hole Greece dug for itself for years/decades. Reckoning was coming. The EU agreement was harsh, I think there could have been a softer version available, especially had Greece not been in the EURO.

But outside the EU entirely, Greece would have eventually defaulted on its debt, and considering the insane amount of debt and massive budget imbalance that caused it in the first place, that would have sent the Drachma spiralling out of control. Without the backing of the EU, Greece would have had a hard time coming up with an economic and social plan to earn back some international credibility. It is unlikely it would have maintained inflation in control, but even if it did, high inflation would have been dramatic in an economy so reliant on import for basic necessities. It is extremely doubtful they would have been better off.

One way (in the EU) or another Greece was looking at terrible consequences for their politicians mismanagements.


>But the EU did not cause the massive hole Greece dug for itself for years/decades.

I think that has several causes:

1) Greek politicians (and Greek elites complicit with them) consumed a lot of infrastructure money from EU in BS overpriced public works projects. That said, Greece infrastructure wise is a totally different country from Greece in 1980. But those infrastructure projects didn't and could't themselves generate money.

2) Greek economy was traditionally based on smaller production units (SMEs). When global outsourcing (and later China and co) became an option for everything of that kind, Greece competence in the area dropped to 0. The small business owners at the time didn't have the savvy to market their products as premium goods and justify higher margins (like e.g. Italy does at least for some things), neither did they have the brand name to assist them in moving production abroad (and continue selling). The quality+price points they competed at were no longer possible. Tons of such Greek industries died off in the 80s and 90s with no replacement.

(Add to the mix a bevy of EU policies that were in fact protecting interests of major EU nations (Germany, France, mostly), against competition from the South).

3) Even so, Greece had control over its debt, which was never a major part of GDP before 2001, using its monetary policy. The inflection point was the switch to the Euro, when suddenly a volatile economy was tied to a "strong" currency, with no room for corrections (imagine the US debt if the Fed couldn't print dollars and the world didn't accept dollars as a de facto exchange currency -- now imagine that with an much weaker economy to begin with).


The 2008-2010 crisis never would have left Greece standing, EUROzone or not.

Their debt might have been okay in 2001, but don't forget how reckless they have been with spending (photos of sport related infrastructure the 2004 Olympics is a nice reminder), and they put off reforms for decades.

Infrastructure projects are a must have for a globally competitive economy, profit generating or not. Upkeep is an issue of course, but for some reason Greece wanted to not go back to sheep herding.


As I recall, the Greek public sector was a large part of its economy, and jobs available through connections over merit.


Smaller public sector than e.g. Denmark. But worse management.


I think one major point is that a devaluation in the drachma would have made Greek industry more competitive again. Inflation goes up, yes, but imports decrease and exports increase.

Greece would have experienced market discipline instead of discipline by government fiat. The latter is much more dangerous politically, as we saw with the election of Syriza.

I think it's telling to contrast the fate of Greece with the outcome for Iceland.


>But the EU did not cause the massive hole Greece dug for itself for years/decades. Reckoning was coming.

Yes, and that "reckoning" was a digging bigger hole. The real reckoning is when European sovereign yields go through the roof when the ECB runs out of ammo…


The ECB can't "run out of ammo", but you are right that they could stop, for political reasons, financing the Euro countries covertly in the secondary market like they are doing now.

Or maybe they just will keep that gun to the head and they will use that thread for running the show and impose more counter-cyclic policies. In that case the answer will come from the voters (like it's happening in Italy now).


> In that case the answer will come from the voters (like it's happening in Italy now).

Could you expand on this please, what's happening in Italy, how that connects to the ECB open market policies?


I can try..

The Euro is basically a foreign currency, so Italy have lost any saying in its monetary and fiscal policies. Austerity in times of recession is craziness, but is the order that come from Brussels.

The new government in Italy is basically anti-euro. Those so called "populist" governments don't happen by accident but when the people is very unhappy with the economy.

As the Euro is, in essence, a foreign currency, there is really a risk that Italy and others could be in the situation where they can't finance themselves. That would be the end of the Euro.

In the year 2012 that almost happened. There was a public debt crisis that finished the (and this is not an exaggeration (1)) exact day that the ECB decided to finish it.

What the ECB is doing now (since 2012), is buying the public debt of Italy, Spain and others in the secondary markets (2).

They can't do it directly because is forbidden. This has to be done, because, otherwise will be the end of the Euro.

Interestingly, buying in the secondary market is also against the treaties (3) but they hide it in technicalities.

At the same time, this is used as leverage for dictating the economic policies of those countries from Brussels.

The result of those policies is what bring the "populist" to the government.

(1)-https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9428894/...

(2)-https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2015-12-04/the-ecb-s...

(3) https://elpais.com/elpais/2012/10/24/inenglish/1351097206_05...


For another perspective on this: although I totally agree with what you say, there's also the side of the story where in people love to blame others for failings. When greece plunges into crisis; people blame politions, blame the EU - even though those entitities are entirely and truly democratic. They're not blaming themselves. When northern europe decides to ignore the southern problems even though they're in a union, they blame perhaps their own politicians or the EU for mismanagement, and perhaps their southern neighbors, but certainly not themselves.

But this weird perspective also correlates with a drop not just in voter participation, but perhaps also in the care taken in voting. Seriously, protest votes are a kind of shooting yourself in the foot because the guy next door is so mean - but quite common, at least nowadays.

Almost certainly those who will suffer most from populism in italy will be the voters who voted for them; just as those who voted for e.g. trump are likely to achieve the exact opposite of what they're so angry to... prevent? achieve?

It's not just one country; almost every single modern democracy is afflicted to some extent. We may have misattributed democracies past successes to the technicalities of voting, missing the much larger, less trivial social context in which it works. But certainly whatever the cause - it's much deeper than something like the ECB mishandling the situation in Italy.


"But certainly whatever the cause - it's much deeper than something like the ECB mishandling the situation in Italy. "

This is not a mishandling, the ECB is what is, for now, saving the Euro.

The problem, in Europe, at least, is the design of the Euro is flawed. A different question is if that flawed design it's being used for other goals.


Thanks for the effort, the details, the links, and the comment!

How do these two things square against each other?

> Austerity in times of recession is craziness, but is the order that come from Brussels.

> What the ECB is doing now (since 2012), is buying the public debt of Italy, Spain and others in the secondary markets (2).

It seems to me that "austerity" is the buzzword used by states that want to inflate away their debt.


I don't think defaulting could have turned out better. Once you take money you have to pay back. They got debt reduction as well so it's not like they are pay back the full amount. It's simply the result of bad governance that pilled up over the years.


The worse estimation of defaulting (by people warning against it) where still better than today's numbers. And defaulting would have started a path towards reconstruction, whereas Greece now is just indefinitely held in life with an "artificial lung".

(And the debt is actually the same than it was when the crisis started, so all the "bailout" did was to save the banks exposed to it using European's people's money, so instead of DB and other private banks now it's owed to ECB, the IMF and so on -- the same debt but under a much worsened infrastructure and economy, so even less chance of ever coming over).


Which kinda sorta looks like German/French state aid, except that's completely against the rules...


It was a bailout of large banks by stealth, much like what happened in Ireland.

Timoty Geithner apocryphally refused to even countenance burning any bondholders in Ireland (or anywhere really) out of the risk of contagion. Now, Ireland has the 3rd highest debt per capita in the world, just after Japan and the US. Note that Japan and the US can print currency, while Ireland cannot.

tl;dr totally a bailout by stealth.

The worst part was that it created this horrible dynamic between different European countries, when really we should just have been blaming the banks.


Maybe they should never have joined the Euro? They already cheated to join with the help of Goldman Sachs.

Not paying taxes, retirement with 50, not playing by the rules, people go blind very quick: https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2012/0430/Greek-islan...

There are only two options:

1. Leave the Euro (not the EU). See, what your new Drachma will be able to buy you.

2. Keep the Euro, negotiate a hair cut. Change how things are done in Greece.


As a Greek I hardly blame EU for all of these. They are the result of incompetent politicians who stubbornly refuse to reform and a general population that has learned to live way past their means.

And we haven't turn to China. It's just that our (incompetent) government has ties to communist parties because of their legacy. On the other hand, Greece-US relations are at their best phase in the last 40 years or so. We are and will always be a country that belongs to the West. Fuck China and fuck Russia too, and any other oppressive regiment out there.


The fact that they fucked up their economy again (even with unconditional free money) doesn't change a thing. They still received extreme economical help from the EU and the least they could do is not cause anymore trouble. Not to mention paying the money back.


>The fact that they fucked up their economy again (even with unconditional free money)

Yeah, just not unconditional, not free, and no money.

They got credit (e.g. not money but another loan), under severe conditions (e.g. not unconditional), foreign analysts have compared to those signed when you're defeated in a war, and even IMF officials have admitted they were "the wrong solution"), and it had to go directly to repayments (e.g. not free).

So in effect, the German-led EU paid the German banks and major private investors holding most of the debt, with EU money, still keeping Greece in debt (from the new credit), making some good money in the process (see linked articles above), and imposing their economic agenda on top.

>and the least they could do is not cause anymore trouble

A, those pesky Greeks always causing trouble. And ungrateful at that.

Not, like e.g. a galant nation invading their country, causing the death of a million people (including almost all Greek Jews), taking a "loan" to itself from the occupied government it had setup, bombing Greece's ports and infrastructure before leaving, and then refusing to pay recuperations...


   paid the German banks and major 
   private investors holding most 
   of the debt
As far as I understand, see e.g. [1], the biggest debt-holders by far (in absolute terms and even more so relative to GDP) where Greek banks. The biggest foreign debt-holders (in absolute term) were French banks. Relative to GDP the biggest foreign debt holders were banks from Belgium, followed by France. Moreover, Greek debt held by German banks was spread over a 11 banks, rather than concentrated in 2 (Belgium) or 4 (France), hence less systemic risk.

In the light of this data, I do not think it's reasonable to speak as you did above. It was primarily a bailout of Greek, French and Belgium banks.

Aside, if Yanis Varoufakis' account is to be believed, the core reason why Germany accepted the bailout was political and twofold:

* The governing coalition under Merkel had elections upcoming, and staked its entire reputation on the EU and the Euro. A new Euro-Critical party (Alternative fuer Deutschland AfD) emerged. It was felt that Greece dropping out of the Euro and defaulting would be seen by the voters as a vindication of the Alternative fuer Deutschland.

* Powerstruggle with France: if Germany went soft with Greece, it was felt that that would give France an excuse to tap German money even more than it already does.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2011/jun/17/greece...


There is a very simple fact: in order to develop an economy you need investment, not austerity. There is not democratic country that would accept for its population what the Europeans have forced on Greece.

You want Greece start thinking in the EU like "us" when they deal with China, but, at the same time, we Europeans, talk about how "they fucked" it.

You can't have it both ways: or Greece are "us" or Greece are "they".

In my opinion, the debt crisis showed them, and others, clearly that it's not* the former.

*edited: added the 'not'.


As long as there is no fiscal union you can't simply share the loss between member states. Is as simple as that. We can talk about we and the "EU budget" all time long but if we want to talk about "our" money and "our" debt the we need some kind of fiscal union. We can't talk about "our" money only when we get bankrupted.


Without a fiscal union there should never have been a monetary union.


..and many economist warned about it.


And politicians - pretty sure I recall that Michael Portillo predicted exactly the sort of problems the euro has been through over recent times.


You would think that and here we are.


That's precisely my point.

You can't talk about "our" European exterior policy and then, when the time arrive impose a bigger austerity, in part of the population of Europe, causing a bigger and longer crisis that the Great Depression.

Never mind Greece previous sins, that would never be done to a German land or a USA state, for instance

Ergo, there is not "we".

If something, Brussels, has show to be the antagonist to the Greeks (and not only the Greeks).


> in order to develop an economy you need investment, not austerity

That's a nice theory, but considering all the stuff that came out about how dysfunctional Greece, on outside they were just bunch of liars. How can any politician justify to voters such a decision?

If you lend somebody money to improve his life, and he burns through them by doing stupid things and lying to you, and has no way to pay back, do you lend them more "in order to develop"?

Btw if I recall correctly your suggestion is what Obama did - pumping more money into economy after 2008. From what I read it was very ineffective and basically trillion(s) were mostly wasted without lasting effect


For an alternative economic explanation of what happened, you can read other posts (mine and other) in here. Basically what it has been done is saving, by an indirect route, the Germans and French banks exposed to Greece without improving (worsening actually) the life of the people there.

Consider that, theoretically, the problem to be solved was the public debt and now, many years later, and after forcing the solution on the patient, the debt is the same or worst.

I have to say, that I find totally alien the moral perspective from wich somebody can say something like "they are a bunch of liars" about an entire country.

Who is the liar? the taxi guy in Athens? the children of the school in the corner? the old people that miss the drachma? the young people that had to leave the country?

Never mind where you are from, a little of introspection (and some history reading) will show you how you could be easily any one of them.


>They still received extreme economical help from the EU

The EU only tried to get Greece to pay back most its debt, at all costs (social/political/economical...). Who do you think they were helping the most: the big banks or the Greek citizens?


The banks obviously. If someone here says we "helped" Greece they either don't know better or lie. Plus, the bailouts were all credits. We Germans get money from the markets for 1% (or whatever the rate is at the moment), give it to Greece for 5%, make money as a lender (as long as Greece pays it back and we did make sure that they do, didn't we? First order: You pay back every credit. People are hungry? Irrelevant. First pay back credits) and then we have the audacity to call that a bailout and demand gratitude.


The money was very much conditional. Mandatory austerity, for example, which crippled the state and economy as a whole with effects that could last a generation


I think those EU money will need to be paid back one way or another.

EU has a fundamental problem: it is a now a unified economical entity, but not a political one. Using Germany's money to bailout other countries' economy is frown upon by both sides, thus can't sustain.


> The fact that they fucked up their economy again

Uh? Their economical politics have been dictated by EU since the crisis.

> even with unconditional free money

Uh? You mean mostly extra loans that they had to repay, like any loan. And it was not unconditional either, since they had to apply the economical politics of EU, so that EU was sure they would repay.


That's an EU problem, not a China problem really. The EU (we) never really formed a polity. A constitution people believe in, a democratic process people are engaged with. Without that, it's very hard to have a core of collective (political) values. So, whether it's EU members playing realpolitik and preferring powerful friends to moral high grounds, or some members drifting away from liberal democracy... the EU is not really equipped to do anything.

I've long thought that the EU has focused far too much on combining bureaucracy and too little on combining actual politics.

Now that we're facing political challenges, there is no EU polity to deal with it. If we're faced with any major political or military conflict, the members will fall on multiple sides and the EU will be split.


> all those bailouts they received

most of the bailout money went straight to Germany to buy back outstanding bonds in possession of their central bank ensuring they'd be insulated from further deterioration of the Greek economy.

https://www.esmt.org/where-did-greek-bailout-money-go


> Well that's one way of saying thanks for all those bailouts they received...

It's the banks and institutions from the bailing out countries who received the bailouts.


Those bailouts were not given out of the good of the rest of Europe's hearts; the rest of Europe also benefits from these countries keeping themselves together. I don't think it's fair to subsequently expect them to just bend over and act on the whims of the other countries. We're a union, and we're in this together, as equals.


Go read your Machiavelli. Even if it would be warranted - which is rather doubtful - gratitude has no place in geopolitics.


This is what you need a union for. We have a union. So instead of a single country being blacklisted from trade or diplomatic relations due to criticizing China (e.g on human rights) it should just do so as a union. China obviously can’t blacklist the EU.

A good first step would be for the EU to put its foot down and recognize Taiwan as an independent state with full diplomatic relations. As it stands, no individual country dares do it.


Right, but the point is that (currently) criticizing as a union requires unanimous approval from the member states, and some don't approve.

The article proposes changing the voting scheme to a qualified-majority rather than unanimity, but personally I think it would be better to try to understand why those countries are against it and work to change that, rather than overruling them, which just reinforces the idea that the EU is a tool of a small clique of countries to rule over the others.


Another approach may be to use secret ballot. The issue many states have is that they don't want to be on record supporting something even though they do, for fear of retaliation etc. But if nobody knows how you voted, you can vote how you want to.


That works unless a vote is unanimous. At that point it is obvious what you voted.


You could choose not to publish the tally (or do you mean for votes that are required to be unanimous?), or agree beforehand not to disclose detailed-enough tallies to draw this conclusion (e.g. report only that 2 or fewer nay's were voted, but not whether that number was 0, 1, or 2.)

But more practically: I kind of doubt it matters when the vote is unanimous, because at that point you're in good company, and it's going to be hard for some external entity to blame you all too much (and if they do, it's easier to find backing for your position from all those that voted like you).


Votes are required to be unanimous, so a secret ballot changes nothing for the affirmative, it would only hide who voted against.


that would immediately make me to switch from 'reform the eu' to 'leave the eu', there's nothing worse than a bunch of unaccountable politician twice removed from local issues voting secretly away from our control and ability to retaliate by electing someone else.


You may reconsider after watching this video on why secret ballots (or anonymous voting in general) should be preferred over "voting transparency":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gEz__sMVaY


at most I see it as a need to introduce a bill to refund money spent on political campaigns. secret vote at that level doesn't work, it's common for lobbies to spend on both sides to ease a bill trough, so they are interested more on the end result than the single vote, and as such they don't care if the vote is secret or not, only if the final result is favorable.


But if the final result is unfavorable, who do they punish? The entire legislature, including everyone who voted with them? Good luck with that.


Just to note, this would be the European Council, which is made up of national ministers, who are definitely elected.

You may be thinking of the Commission, who can propose legislation and are appointed for five year terms by the Council (following nominations by national governments).


>> but personally I think it would be better to try to understand why those countries are against it and work to change that, rather than overruling them....

Think why US governors vote differently on various foreign policy issues such the Iraq/Afganistan war or the current trade war. Absolute majority is hard to achieve even in the United States.


> US governors vote differently on various foreign policy issues

Not sure if this is sarcasm. American governors govern states. They have zero purview over foreign policy, which is strictly a federal matter.


I think in this case replacing governors with senators may be appropriate and closer to the original intent.


They have influence by using the bully pulpit, talking about it, making plans that are different. See California right now on climate change.


China used political capital to buy off the votes in Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Greece so those 3 countries veto any measure that China doesn’t want the EU to develop.

China is smart, not naive. They can bring the EU to their knees with tens of billions of dollars making them completely ineffective due to their huge bureaucracy.


Some country will always take that position because there is economic and diplomatic benefit in taking it.


> China obviously can’t blacklist the EU.

Don't be too sure. Even if not in absolute terms, the scale appears uneven. Still, you are correct that it needs to be at the EU level, if just to protect those that can't afford to stand on principle.

Also, you don't have to go full Taiwanese independence here. Simpler measures towards transparency of Chinese influence/demands would be a much more pragmatic initial step.


EU countries acting unanimously towards China would mean the "predatory exporter" countries would grab the whole cake, the rest would be traditionally losers at their own fault. Only acting individually the countries like e.g. Czechia or even Poland can get a chance to trade with China. The long term negative consequences are irrelevant as this is perspective exceeding the duration of their parliaments' terms of office.


Your assertion of Poland/Czechia not trading with China is easily-provable BS https://tradingeconomics.com/czech-republic/imports-by-count...

I wonder if there are some ulterior motive in the increased amount of anti-EU comments here on this site


Presumably, they meant that Czechia and Poland currently act individually and thus have a chance to trade with China, which they could lose otherwise.


Individually they get the worst deal. Just ask average Joe to do business with a big corporation and see what kind of deal he gets.


Acting as a union Germany, France, and UK would get everything, some hand outs for Spain and Italy, any profits skillfully funeled through Luxembourg, Lichtenstein, and Netherlands. The general population getting low quality tat "Made in China".


Somewhat aside: it's a bit of a shame the netherlands gets the blame in these tax-dodging stories, because the issue is actually that laws differ between countries (i.e. countries with laws identical to the netherlands aren't vulnerable to the tax dodge), and as it so happens, the netherlands' tax system is... not quite as crappy as that of most other countries. Still crappy, mind you. Just not as bad.

I.e. the appropriate solution would be for (e.g., to pick on a particularly bad tax code) the US and germany to simply dump their tax codes wholesale and copy the Netherlands, rather than the converse. Because seriously, some tax codes are just asking to be abused. Plug this hole, wait for the next one...

The cynical side of me doesn't think it's coincidental that the loopholes are so gaping. Oh well.


Right now, industries in Eastern Europe are "not allowed" to trade directly with China, India or Russia. Anything they produce and is sold outside EU must go through German or other western company. Guess where the profits stay.

See also sanctions against Russia: the trade of everyone _except Germany_ went down; overall the trade is the same. Cui bono?


>Right now, industries in Eastern Europe are "not allowed" to trade directly with China, India or Russia

source?


Looks like the fake news production is in full power


Yeah, sure. And the fact that Bulgaria with Hungary cannot have their gas pipeline (South Stream), but Germany can (Nord Stream 2), is just another piece of fake news. Right?

It is certainly not about who will control the trade, everything is just coincidence. Sure thing.


This is such BS. Can you provide evidence?


It is wrong that they can't trade with China. Billions of dollars a month go to China to Europe in trade.


> Cui bono?

Belarus.


The small authoritarian countries in Europe can bring everything down, just like the Irish tax issue. It's worth China bribing small countries to get their way, whether outright or through special deals.


lol, the only truly authoritarian state lying entirely in Europe is Belarus and it is not in EU neither is that small.


Smaller members have a lot of leverage in the EU.


Why would they do that? That sounds like a stupid move causing unnecessary trouble. There's like two countries worldwide who recognise Taiwan as independent, and the US is not among those either.


> This is what you need a union for. We have a union. So instead of a single country being blacklisted from trade or diplomatic relations due to criticizing China (e.g on human rights) it should just do so as a union.

Actually, the union makes it harder to confront china because of the collective nature. It's like if a group of ten people going to the movies vs 10 individuals. The group has to compromise while individuals don't. There is a reason why china is so pro-EU. It's why china wants britain to stay in the EU.

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/18...

The EU can't confront china if it is going to hurt greece or one of its members. But norway can because it is free to act on its own interests.

https://thediplomat.com/2016/01/sino-norwegian-relations-5-y...

> China obviously can’t blacklist the EU.

And obviously EU can't blacklist china either.

> As it stands, no individual country dares do it.

A few individual countries do.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_relations_of_Taiwan#Ty...


Two dogs can't fight a tiger.

Sure, it's harder to reach a consensus, but it has more power than individual decisions.

Divide and conquer has been tried and tested, it rarely works as well as the "muh sovereignety" people think.


Interesting how everyone was in favour of FDI when it was flowing out of Europe and the US into Africa and South America, and now people are admitting that the downside is loss of autonomy?


Well yes, when you replace a diverse set of democracies with a single dictatorship, that tends to end badly for those on the receiving end.


Actually copy the text of the Economist article and replace the "China" with "Europe" and "Europe" with "Africa" or "East Europe" or similar and it will be funny.


Right now, you can keep China and replace Europe with Africa and it will be still quite relevant.


2018: Greece accepts billions in loans from China, despite clear EU warnings.

2028: Greece wants help from EU after China strongarms it over loans. "Why does the EU do nothing to help us?"


China can't embargo, sanction or put tariff on Greece without doing the same for the whole single market.


Interesting overview of China as "an island."

https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/geopolitics-china-gre...


Huh. Is it really valid to think of investment or cash as tainted by the norms that they originate from, affecting the characteristic parameters of the system it flows into (norms of the institutions and people in the EU)? In what manner is it valid to think of the trojan-horse-cash as spreading, like a dirac pulse which only affects the first node touched by it (the person or institution who gets the cash), or as something with a long half-life, which spreads widely and with a lot of influence once in the system?


Just like gravity, its not the influx of cash that causes fear, its the sudden stop at the end.


In Portugal we sold our electric grid and production. Lol.


In Brazil we sold our electric grid, and it was great!

We also leased our production and we got ripped off by politicians.

Basically, YMMV, as the details matter much more than the large picture here.


> Some Europeans take this to suggest that China is a useful counterweight to an unpredictable Uncle Sam. That is misguided.

Although misguided, it is quite easy to understand citizens' anti-Americanism which is borne out of effects they experience compared to China's relatively domestic-only policies. Right or wrong aside, this has always been the cost of globalism and projection. I don't think it helps to present it as an either-or, weight-counterweight situation (which the article doesn't do and is warning against of course).

> Transparency should be demanded [...]

I've found this is just too much to ask anyone dealing with China. I don't care if you're Marriott or Apple or a politician or whoever, the leverage of an entire country weighed against your ability to even disagree publicly is an unfair fight. Sadly, if you want to demand transparency you are in effect forcefully removing a market. Consumers and journalists are going to have to just continue naming and shaming, which does little good, until that transparency is demanded of the true oppressor.

> That is misguided [...] however much Europeans may dislike the occupant of the White House.

> Ideally the Trump administration would stop treating Europeans as free-riders on American power who deserve a good kicking.

While ideal, sure, I think the author should heed their own thoughts on not focusing too much on the current occupant. In general US policy has no anti-EU slant (though the inverse seems less true).


[flagged]


On the contrary; we have too many plans. Almost each country - and even regions of countries - has their own, and they don't align, hence the lack of coordination.


I have not read a single economist.com article in the last couple of months but the paywall tells me I've reached my limit. How badly can your paywall be implemented? This is I guess the most disencouraging thing from me getting a paid subscription.

Anyone else having the same issue?


The future is agreeable and unanimous.


Ah, cool, China bashing in HN again. These kind of things usually drop out of the homepage in seconds, if it is US- or UK-related, with the usual off topic arguments.

Let's call it as it is: HN is a political instrument for anglocentric views. Not a particularly strong one, since topics are usually not about politics, but biased nontheless.

Which is fine, but let's stop denying it.


>Let's call it as it is: HN is a political instrument for anglocentric views. Not a particularly strong one, since topics are usually not about politics, but biased nontheless.

...but most of this thread is "bashing" the US and EU.

The best you could say about HN is that it hosts a pro-China contingent and an anti-China contingent, each of which believes the site is biased towards the other. But the site itself and the userbase is too diverse to be accurately labeled one or the other.


Why should opinions be divided between 'pro' and 'anti'?

The issue is that China tends to be an emotive topic for some reason, and calm and factual analysis too rare.

It is possible to discuss China by recognising that it is a country that has been through a long period of decline and that is simply trying to re-assert itself on the world stage.


> The best you could say about HN is that it hosts a pro-China contingent and an anti-China contingent, each of which believes the site is biased towards the other. But the site itself and the userbase is too diverse to be accurately labeled one or the other.

I would argue that your pro-China camp does not exist. Those who criticize the US (myself included) are perfectly aware that China is not a role model.

We simply refuse to accept the view good (US) vs bad (China / Russia, depending on the weather). And we argue that the US has a much bigger footprint on geopolitics. both good and bad. And we criticize the bad parts, of which there are plenty.


> we argue that the US has a much bigger footprint on geopolitics

and by reducing that footprint (which is the main purpose of the critique) who do you think is in the best position to fill the vacuum? and what is the net effect of such change (good vs bad)?

> And we criticize the bad parts, of which there are plenty.

so you won't start criticizing China until US becomes the perfect utopia? how convenient..


Maybe, but the article setting the tone of the discussion, the one with (currently) 70 points, is bashing China.

A similar US-bashing political article would never get that much upvoted. Methinks.


I wouldn't assume that upvotes for the article correlate to an implicit agreement with it. If that were the case the tone of the thread overall would probably be different.

Also, I see criticism of China in this article, but I don't see anything I would interpret as "bashing" China. For that matter I also see criticism of the US and EU in the article as well.


Pity. Your worries actually come from not facts, but imagination. Just replace China with US in those sentences, much less worries will be arisen. Furthermore, there's no facts about China's threat emerging yet, compared to US/NATO's several military operations against quite a few sovereignties, and numerous military bases all over the world, which ensure their bombs to blow your bedroom wherever you are within 1 hour. Just be honest to your heart. You feel worries merely because they are yellow while you are white, and that uncomfortableness needs some time to be relieved.


No, we "feel worries" because "they" are an authoritarian party-state whose record on little things like freedom of speech, rule of law and human rights speaks for itself - and that's when it's dealing with its own citizens.


Exactly. The US is willing to prop up some pretty brutal despots in the name of stability or access to resources. China is going to be as bad or worse. The actions of the Chinese government overseas are not nearly as constrained by the need of partial approval or lack of disapproval at home the way the actions of the US are. Someone like Pinochet wouldn't even give China pause.


Or perhaps people feel worried because they have a basic familiarity with history. China is run by a party of brutal authoritarian murderers with no regard for human rights. Their actions are antithetical to almost all Western Liberal values. Standing by your morals and refusing to play nice with a power hungry dictatorship has nothing to do with racism, regardless of your delusional whataboutism.


> China is run by a party of brutal authoritarian murderers with no regard for human rights.

You are totally right, and I will add just one word: Guantanamo.




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