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  • Europe's shipping ports

  • are a big part of the region's economy.

  • And guess who's been buying them up?

  • China!

  • Welcome back to China Uncensored.

  • I'm Chris Chappell.

  • No one loves money and business

  • more than the Chinese Communist Party.

  • For the past decade,

  • they've been on a global investment spree.

  • In 2013,

  • Chinese leader Xi Jinping officially

  • wrapped China's state-sponsored investments

  • into what he called the Belt and Road Initiative.

  • Or, as it was initially known,

  • One Belt, One Road to Bring Them All,

  • and in the Darkness Bind Them.

  • Xi Jinping is a big Lord of the Rings fan.

  • Hilarious.

  • Except that the taking over the world thing,

  • is not actually a joke.

  • The Chinese are spending billions of dollars

  • to build the basic infrastructure of a world

  • they think they're going to dominate.

  • They say it clearly.

  • 2030-2050 we will be the dominant force,

  • so get ready for that.”

  • Get ready for that, because it's already underway.

  • In Europe,

  • Chinese companies have bought stakes in 13 ports

  • all within the past decade.

  • And as of 2019,

  • Chinese state-controlled companies are handling

  • 10 percent of Europe's shipping container traffic.

  • Why isn't this big news?

  • Becauselet's be honest,

  • you haven't even heard of some of these port cities.

  • Like Le Havre

  • which I think is type of cheese?

  • Or Bilbao,

  • which is definitely Spanish for Bilbo Baggins,

  • and Marsaxlokk?!

  • That can't be a real place, can it?

  • Look, these cities aren't exactly

  • making headline news every night.

  • And honestly, that's kind of the point.

  • Chinese investment in European ports

  • has been a slow, quiet creep.

  • Like Slender Man.

  • But instead of abducting your children,

  • he's abducting Europe's infrastructure.

  • But what's happening here is still im-port-ant.

  • I'll give an example.

  • The port of Zeebrugge, in Bruges, Belgium.

  • Not super exciting, I know.

  • And that's why very few people

  • were paying attention when

  • in January 2018—

  • a Chinese state-owned shipping company

  • bought an 85% stake in Zeebrugge.

  • I'm talking about COSCO

  • China Ocean Shipping Company.

  • Not to be confused with COSTCO

  • where you go for groceries but end up buying

  • 5 dozen pairs of Kirkland Signature underpants...

  • that were probably delivered from China

  • on a COSCO ship.

  • Anyway, COSCO's Chief Executive

  • says the company hasbig plans for Zeebrugge,”

  • adding thatwith this and other ports like Piraeus,

  • we want to build a bridge to Europe.”

  • Yes, a bridge.

  • Using ports.

  • But there's a problem with all that bridge building:

  • It's making EU leaders a little nervous.

  • In a 2017 state of the union speech,

  • European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

  • expressed his concern about foreign takeovers.

  • Just a year and a half later

  • that's fast in European Union time

  • the EU council approved a new set of rules

  • to screen foreign investments.

  • Including new investments from China.

  • But there are plenty of problems with the investments

  • Chinese companies have already made.

  • Like how the Chinese regime is using Europe's ports

  • to expand its political control.

  • The author ofChina's Offensive in Europe

  • Philippe Le Corre said in a congressional testimony

  • that China's Belt and Road Initiative

  • is primarily a Chinese project that will help China

  • expand its influence in the Eurasian region and beyond.”

  • I mean, if a foreign authoritarian regime

  • controls your ability to import and export goods,

  • it has enormous power over you.

  • Philippe Le Corre also noted that

  • as China's investments in European infrastructure

  • have grown over the past few years,

  • China has demonstrated its ability to divide Europeans.”

  • For example, in 2016,

  • a struggling Greece accepted 300 million dollars

  • in exchange for giving China's state-owned COSCO

  • a majority stake in its Piraeus port.

  • Piraeus is now the Chinese regime's

  • most important port in Europe.

  • Less than a year later,

  • the EU wanted to pass a statement

  • condemning the Chinese regime's

  • crackdown on dissidents.

  • And Greece was like,

  • Haha, what?

  • China is so nice!

  • We're gonna veto that statement.”

  • And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

  • The Chinese Communist Party has created

  • a special group called 16+1.

  • That is, 16 countries in Central and Eastern Europe

  • plus China.

  • These are the countries that are...ok,

  • what's a nice way to say this...

  • not top travel destinations.

  • The countries that you're not really sure

  • where they are on a map.

  • Like Serbia,

  • which we did a whole episode on a couple weeks ago.

  • After I looked up where it was.

  • Anyway, the 16+1 group holds summits

  • and promotes business with China.

  • But according to the Financial Times,

  • EU leaders in *Western* Europe

  • the travel destination countries

  • they're worried about 16+1.

  • Mostly about the +1 part.

  • The monthly journal Europe Now

  • reports that “16+1 could become a Trojan horse

  • for China to shatter the bloc's unity

  • in sensitive areas ranging from the single market

  • to foreign investment vetting.”

  • The worry is China controls so many of Europe's ports

  • as well as other stuff

  • that it could use that as leverage

  • to play EU member countries against each other...

  • to change European laws it doesn't like.

  • In fact, that's already happened.

  • Remember how I said the EU approved a framework

  • to screen foreign direct investments?

  • Well guess what?

  • That framework doesn't actually

  • have an enforcement mechanism.

  • After the screening process,

  • each country still gets to completely decide on its own

  • if it wants to let Chinese investment in.

  • Which is a bit like having a police officer

  • ordering a suspect to

  • Stop, or I'll say stop again!”

  • Works every time.

  • And that weakness in the framework

  • is largely thanks to Chinese pressure.

  • According to the Financial Times,

  • China's lobbying has already proved effective

  • in diluting the proposed review process.”

  • And in a policy briefing last year,

  • the European Parliament Research Service noted that

  • China has made major inroads into the EU

  • by acquiring minority stakes in port infrastructure

  • of strategic relevance for China.

  • Hence, China is increasingly able to shape outcomes

  • in its interest from within the EU.”

  • Last year,

  • French President Emmanuel Macron said,

  • China won't respect a continent, a power,

  • when some member states let their doors freely open.”

  • And like momma always said,

  • Don't ever be with a man who doesn't respect you.”

  • So what do you think about the Chinese regime

  • buying up strategic ports and building a bridge to Europe?

  • Leave your comments below.

  • And if you'd like to learn more about

  • what happens after the Chinese regime

  • takes over your ports,

  • check out the episode we did on Greece and Piraeus.

  • I'll put a link to that episode in the description below.

  • And before we go,

  • it's time to answer a question

  • from a fan who supports China Uncensored

  • through the crowdfunding website Patreon.

  • David Michael White asks:

  • Chris, which film of the Back to the Future trilogy

  • is your favorite?”

  • Well, David, it's obviously the one

  • where they travel to the past:

  • October 21, 2015.

  • You mean we're in the future?”

  • It's the past future

  • I always imagined we wouldn't have.

  • Flying cars.

  • Jackets that dry themselves.

  • Nausea-inducing fashion trends.

  • Well, we do have that one.

  • But anyway, Back to the Future Part II

  • is definitely the best of the trilogy.

  • In fact, back in 2015,

  • my producer Matt and I actually did a video about

  • 10 things Back to the Future Part II got right

  • and posted it on our channel.

  • I know, you're wondering what it had to do with China.

  • And the answer is...absolutely nothing.

  • But we really,

  • really wanted to do that video for some reason.

  • And it got more views than this video ever will.

  • I'll put that link in the description below, too.

  • I wonder which one people will watch:

  • An episode about Greek debt or Back to the Future.

  • Hmmm.

  • Thanks for your question, David.

  • And thank you to the more than 2,000 of you

  • who support China Uncensored

  • through the crowdfunding website Patreon.

  • Most of our revenue comes through

  • your direct contributions.

  • So thank you for helping us

  • pay our staff and keep the lights on.

  • Once again, I'm Chris Chappell.

  • See you next time.

Europe's shipping ports

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