China’s attempts to control territories and boost the country’s influence while the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage could threaten global security, Justin Urquhart Stewart, co-founder of Regionally, a UK Regional Investment Platform, told New Europe.

“This should be a very serious concern. China is spreading its influence in terms of re-colonizing Africa,” he said in a phone interview.

China continues to aggressively expand its influence in South Asia and is increasing its presence in the Indian Ocean, particularly in Sri Lanka, which recently elected a staunchly pro-Beijing government that alarmed its giant northern neighbour India, which is a traditional adversary of China’s.

“A good example (of China’s expansionist policies) can be seen in Sri Lanka, where you saw a port being built in Sri Lanka, in the country’s southeast, that has no particular need at all because there is nothing in Sri Lanka’s southeast corner. The port was built with loans from China and those loans could not be serviced properly because the interest rates went up. As a result, the loans were then handed back to China and given to the port of Shanghai, which now controls the facility (in southeast Sri Lanka). The port just so happens to fit the entire contingent of the Chinese navy that operates in the Indian Ocean,” Urquhart Stewart said. “The Indian government is absolutely furious over this as it is another example of China using its military and naval strength elsewhere around the world and using its ability to enter those markets with cheap loans. And if the loans can’t be satisfied, then they will take over ownership and increase their control,” he said before adding, “One should always be wary that they (the Chinese Communist Party) will be seeking to increase their influence at every opportunity.”

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Chinese navy troops march through Tiananmen Square in Beijing during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, October 1, 2019. EPA-EFE//ROMAN PILIPEY

China, according to Urquhart Stewart, is actively looking to take full advantage of the isolationist policies that the Trump administration has enacted since he came into office nearly four years ago saying “They (the Chinese) are very definitely using their position of influence now,” he said, adding, “As far as Beijing is concerned, they will be using everything possible to improve their position.”

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“As the Americans pull back from most international issues, China is stepping in and will take full advantage of that whenever it possibly can. To counter that, Europe must use its powerful trading position to counter China’s expansionism and needs to do exactly the opposite of what the US is doing now. Brussels needs to use its position as a strong trade body to make sure they can handle the Chinese militarily, but also on an economic basis, as well. That, of course, becomes more complicated because one of the more stupid consequences of the UK pulling out of the EU is that Britain now has absolutely no influence on China whatsoever.”

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“What Europe needs to do is reach a new trade agreement with China, but also realise that the influence the Chinese will have is greater than ever before. Europe has to realize that it is the largest trading block in the world and that China needs to do a deal with it that way. Europe needs to use that strength to make sure it can control or contain whatever China is doing,” Urquhart Stewart said.


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