Simon Tisdall: The Chinese Behemoth Awakes

From The Guardian:

China’s forceful intervention in the Greek debt crisis this week has given harassed European leaders meeting at today’s EU summit a sharp reminder of the challenges posed by Beijing’s relentless, expansive, and not always benign pursuit of global interest and influence. What was seen in Athens as a potential financial lifeline was, for others, a troubling sign of a future made in China.

Chinese vice-premier Zhang Dejiang agreed shipping, tourism and telecommunications deals worth several billion euros during the second visit to Athens in four weeks by a high-ranking Beijing official. The investment package, reportedly the biggest ever by China in Europe, was a welcome shot in the arm for the beleaguered Greek government.

But Radio Free Europe commentator Breffni O’Rourke highlighted the intervention’s wider significance for Europe as a whole. “The Chinese are hard-headed realists and they recognise in the ideal portal for exports to the Balkans. They have decided to establish a bridgehead there at a moment when the terms are most favourable,” he said.

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