A diplomatic fight has broken out between China and Belgium over the regime’s involvement in European infrastructure.
In a recent interview with Belgian media, Belgium’s Foreign Affairs Minister Hadja Lahbib cited a new report, saying, “I believe above all that in the current context, our eyes are turned to China, which is a partner, a rival, and a potential enemy.”
She added, “Civilian ships are being modified to potentially become military ships. We have to think about it and be very careful.”
State-owned China Ocean Shipping Company, better known as Cosco, owns minority stakes in the Antwerp and Zeebrugge ports of Belgium. The ports are located on the North Sea coast.
When asked if Belgium should fight Cosco’s investments, Lahbib said her country should think about it and that Belgium and the EU must reduce its strategic dependence on China.
A few days after the interview, a Chinese envoy met with a Belgian foreign ministry official. The envoy demanded that the minister retract the interviews calling China a potential enemy, accusing the claim as “rumors.” The Belgium Foreign Affairs Ministry declined to do so.
Recently, Cosco also reached an agreement on a controversial deal with Germany to take partial ownership of the terminals in Hamburg. This is a strategic commercial port on the mouth of the Elbe River.