Greece told: beware Chinese bearing gifts

As Greece struggles, China comes to the rescue with its biggest ever European investment. But does Chinese help come with dangerous strings attached?

One web article was titled simply “China buys Greece”. The long-running story of Greece’s financial woes took a surprising turn yesterday with the announcement of a multibillion Euro “cooperation” deal with the Chinese. The Guardian called it an “unexpected endorsement” for Greece’s debt-ridden economy.

Chinese companies will pay millions of Euros to take over important parts of Greece’s national infrastructure – including the crucial container port on the edge of Athens.

The injection of money is a lifesaver for the tattered Greek economy. On Monday night, internationally recognised credit rating agency Moody’s downgraded the value of Greek bonds to “junk status”, pushing the country to the brink of bankruptcy.

As the world’s fastest -growing economy, China has vast reserves of cash which it invests around the world. In developing countries, the Chinese are often portrayed as efficient businessmen – willing to put real money on the table without quibbling over matters of human rights.

But the French government, for example, recently blocked one deal on grounds of “national security”. With Western economies floundering, resisting the lure of Chinese cash has become a whole lot harder.

Threat or opportunity?

Many Western politicians are nervous of China’s meteoric rise to global power. For years, we’ve prospered in a “uni-polar” world, dominated by the US. Now, growing countries like Brazil, Russia, India and China – the so-called “BRICs” – are pushing us towards a “multi-polar” world, where global leadership is shared between many nations.

Will the emergence of new superpowers lead to new rivalries, or even new wars? Some think it will, and argue that we should resist the expansion of Chinese power while we can.

Others say bring it on. US dominance has gone on too long, they argue, and it’s about time someone challenged their claims to global leadership. A “multi-polar” world will strengthen international co-operation, and discourage “imperialist” adventures like the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Already, ambitious students in Britain and the US are ditching traditional modern languages like French and rushing off to Chinese lessons instead.

You Decide

  1. The decades of the USA’s global dominance have been generally peaceful and prosperous, compared to what came before. But is it unhealthy for one country to have all the power in the world?
  2. China is known for staying out of other countries’ domestic politics. The USA, on the other hand, tries to spread democracy and human rights, and interferes with governments of which it doesn’t approve. Which approach is best?

Activities

  1. What does the article mean when it talks about ‘junk status’ and ‘bankruptcy’ ? Write your own Wikipedia definitions of these words giving further examples of where and when they might be used.

Some People Say...

“I beat the people from China. I win against China. You can win against China if you're smart.”

Donald Trump

What do you think?

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