The European Union announced a long-term investment of 250 billion euros to provide infrastructure projects to developing countries in an attempt to counter the influence of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Belt and Road that Beijing uses to pursue its ambition for global domination.
According to the press release, the global investment whose timeframe will run until 2027, will target tangible and non-tangible infrastructure, digital (5G), climate and energy, transport, healthcare, education and research.
The European Union designed the Global Gateway project using principles opposed to Beijing’s ‘Belt and Road’
In a clear attempt to differentiate itself from the Belt and Road of the CCP dictatorship, Global Gateway, the name of the project, is described as an initiative to promote democracy, human rights, fundamental freedoms as well as the rule of law, principles absent in the treaties offered by the Chinese regime.
“The EU will offer its financing under fair and favorable terms in order to limit the risk of debt distress,’ the Commission said, referring to how the Chinese communist regime grants loans larger than countries can afford, at extremely high rates (over 4% per year) and with extremely short repayment times (10 years) to end up seizing the assets of those countries when the debt defaults.
“It means taking an ethical approach so that infrastructure projects do not create unsustainable debt or unwanted dependencies,” the statement explains.
The U.S. Congressional Foreign Affairs Committee released a report on the malign influence of the CCP’s ‘one belt, one road’ initiative where they detail some of the countries that have become indebted to the CCP.
In 2018, Djibouti—an African country—had $1.4 billion in CCP loans, equivalent to 75% of its GDP.
The CCP also holds 65.8% of Zambia’s foreign debt and has placed Ethiopia at high risk of foreign debt problems.
Pakistan will owe $6.7 billion in short-term debt to the CCP by June 2022.
In 2018, Montenegro owed almost 40% of its external debt to the CCP. A $1 billion loan from Beijing for a highway project alone caused Montenegro’s debt-to-GDP ratio to soar to just over 80% in 2019.
CCP uses a ‘closed circuit’ for its infrastructure projects
While Beijing uses its own banks, its own companies, and its own workforce to build bridges, roads, dams, stadiums, and so on, the European Union approaches its initiative in the more traditional way: call for public tenders, seek private investors, hold popular consultations in the areas where construction is intended, take into account ecological impact, and respect good working conditions and standards.
On the other hand, Beijing’s ‘closed loop’ results in inflated prices of real project costs, exploitation of labor including unhealthy conditions for workers, and low construction standards whose works have little durability or utility.
Another strength that the European project wanted to highlight is safety, particularly in the construction of 5G networks.
“Global Gateway projects will invest in infrastructure to… ensure that citizens are shielded from unwarranted surveillance by public authorities or private companies.”
In the foreign affairs committee report, the congressmen highlight how the CCP uses its state-owned company, Huawei, to collect personal data on its users and infringe on their human rights, sometimes sharing this data with other totalitarian regimes.
Huawei built up to 70% of Africa’s information technology infrastructure, including telecommunications, national and government networks that have been used for surveillance of opposition leaders in Uganda, Zambia, and Ethiopia, among others, the U.S. Congressional report details.
It also mentions the space base that Argentina’s socialist government allowed the CCP to install in the south of the country in exchange for investment, which could be used for intelligence gathering and interference in space operations in the Western Hemisphere.
In September this year, Lithuania’s deputy defense minister warned the entire world that Chinese Xiaomi and Huawei cell phones come with embedded software designed to censor words that the Chinese regime considers ‘sensitive’ such as ‘Free Tibet’, or ‘Long live Taiwan independence, etc. which while not activated in some instances, can be activated remotely.
During Trump’s tenure, Huawei was placed on the blacklist of companies that pose a threat to national security, because the company was found to be sending data of its U.S. users to servers in China.
Biden kept Huawei on the list and added additional Chinese companies.
Both Australia and the United Kingdom also decided to cancel 5G network construction with Huawei due to national security concerns as well.
However, in South American countries with comparatively weaker democracies, the CCP already has plans to install 5G networks through Huawei.