By Muhammad Omar Iftikhar
The European Union has decided to create its global strategy on infrastructure, trade, and commerce to counter China’s rising influence. Termed as “Globally Connected Europe”, the strategy is set to be put in motion in 2022. The European Union has been cautious about China’s economic and trade influence over South Asia and even the West. EU’s joined collaboration will create a bloc that will pursue activities pertaining to the domains of trade, commerce, diplomacy, military, and security. The G7 countries did ponder upon such a strategy that can stand against China’s CPEC and Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
According to Heiko Maas, German Foreign Minister, “We see China using economic and financial means to increase its political influence everywhere in the world. It’s useless moaning about this, we must offer alternatives.” Reports suggest that Brussels recently signed deals with India and Japan to connect Europe and India. While the details are yet to be known, the deal may consider connecting European nations with India through trade and digital media including technology and collaboration in infrastructural developments. EU’s infrastructural project is being termed as a “connectivity” plan set to be launched in 2022. In comparison to the EU’s infrastructure plan, the BRI comprises 40 countries from Sub-Saharan Africa, 34 countries from Europe and Central Asia, 24 countries from East Asia and Pacific, 17 countries from the Middle East and North America, 19 countries from Latin America and the Caribbean, and 6 countries from South East Asia. Time will tell how many countries the European Union manages to include in its plan. Interestingly, the EU and the G7 would need to tackle the European countries that are already a part of the BRI. Will the G7 compel them to switch sides and become members of the EU’s plan or will they be a part of both projects – led by the EU and China.