Only a Few EU Leaders Attending the Silk Road Forum in Beijing?
Feb. 25, 2017 (EIRNS)—To date, the attendance of leaders of Britain, France, Italy and Switzerland at the Belt & Road Forum to be held in the Chinese capital in May, has been confirmed. There is, for instance, no indication yet that Germany will attend as well. Is there a lack of interest on the European side, which also has its EU Commission presently investigating the doubted "legality" of Chinese investments in the infrastructure of several Balkans countries.
A paper published by Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies already last March asked whether the EU had already missed the Belt and Road train. It cited different perspectives and viewpoints among European capitals and the lack of a common EU voice on China’s plans.
"The EU population is still not well aware of the OBOR [One Belt, One Road] initiative," according to the authors of the paper. They also criticized the European media for being too focused on Chinese mergers and acquisitions, rather than analyzing the benefits of a long-term relationship based on a better understanding of reciprocal values and interests. Apparently, the attitude of the media and elites in Europe has not improved much, since.
The said paper also suggested China needed to update its public diplomacy on the Belt and Road Initiative to help build confidence among Europeans. The May forum should provide a platform for China’s leaders to do just that.