Analysing the new American alternative project to Chinese Belt and Road

The United States of America is trying to play an economic role competing with the Chinese role to build ports, technological networks and digital infrastructure in Europe, especially in the countries of “Greece and Italy” due to, the intensity of Chinese investments in them, in order to lead the efforts of “NATO” and encourage it practically to (confront growing Chinese influence in the main European ports), especially the talian and Greece ports.

  What is worth analyzing here, is the (American International Development Finance Corporation) is leading of these American investments and financing initiatives in Europe and around the world, in order to compete with China’s financing, and the most dangerous here is the idea of ​​an (alternative American project to the Chinese Silk Road), which was put forward by the administration of the American president “Joe Biden”, as an American project that acts as an (alternative strategic competitor to the Chinese Silk Road), through what President “Biden” announced at the “G7 summit”. Hence, the Egyptian researcher is trying to analyze the alternative mechanisms and dimensions of the American role in competing primarily with China and its financing in Europe, and leading the efforts of the “NATO” in the face of China, through:

The US administration, through US President “Joe Biden” himself, during his attendance at the G7 major industrial summit meetings in Cornwall City at Britain, put forward an alternative project to the Chinese Silk Road, which he called for “rebuilding a better world”. The American strategy is (transforming the course of the Chinese Silk Road through American investments in Greek ports to confront the Chinese investments).

On the other hand, the infrastructure race between China and the United States is also growing in Italy, in light of Washington’s increasing efforts to break the European Union’s dependence on Chinese investment’s flows. The Greek model represented by (the American offer to build shipyards in the Greek port of Elephesus) is not alone in this context, in contrast to other American scenarios, such as the attempt of American investment in (the Italian ports of Trieste and Taranto), and also facing the Italian ports in which China is investing heavily.

The United States of America is trying to invest in the construction and development of (the shipyards of the Greek port of Elepsis, facing the waters of the Greek Piraeus, with Chinese investments), with American efforts to “modernize the Greek port of Elepsis to be the model corresponding to the Greek port of Piraeus, which is controlled by the Chinese COSCO Shipping Group”, Which made it the most important port in the Mediterranean, handling 5 million containers, and it could reach 7 million containers for freight. The Greek port of Piraeus has now surpassed the Spanish port of Valencia and ranked fourth in Europe and 26th in the world.

Elephesus and Alexandropoulos ports in Greece, represents the top of the American moves related to Greek infrastructure in the face of Chinese investments, at a time when the dependence of the two largest ports in Greece, namely: (Piraeus and Thessaloniki ports), has moved from the Greek government to the Chinese side, which is currently proceeding the process of entrusting the management of six other ports to Chinese state companies, knowing that (the Greek port of Thessaloniki) has transferred its ownership to (Belterra Investment Company) to its owner, the Greek-Russian businessman “Ivan Savidis”, who is close to the Russian President “Putin”, as his location next to the (Tap and TANAP gas pipelines) was an element  crucial to this deal.

In order to confront the growing Chinese influence in the ports of Greece, the United States of America made a great offer to the Greek government, throughvthe American “Lockheed Martincompany” with the Italian  “Fincantieri” company”, to agree on an American deal to build shipyards, especially warships, and to produce  The war frigates are manufactured in the shipyards in the Greek ports of “Elephesus and Scaramangas” with American experience, and the American agreement was reached to produce and manufacture the first unit of four ships in the shipyard of the American company in Italy, with the other three ships to be manufactured in the Greek capital “Athens”. The importance of this American deal is due to providing an optimal option for the Greek side to facilitate the (operations of training and modernizing the capabilities of Greek shipyards).

We find here, that the American deal includes two phases, namely: the construction of the American company for shipyards in the ports of Greece, and then this is linked to another American deal to manufacture frigates, that is, warships also inside the Greek ports, which is the deal that requested the American “Lockheed Martin Company” specialized in building shipyards and manufacturing warships frigates from the Greek government to take an urgent decision on them.

The note worth mentioning here, is the continuous American attempts to conclude and sign that deal with the Greek side, regarding the “construction of war frigates in shipyards in Greek ports”. The Greek government to complete and sign that deal, as well as several private meetings that took place between the American ambassador, “Bayat” with the Greek Minister of Development and Investment, “Adonis Giorgiadis”, who is represented in the American attempt to persuade Greece to accept the American deal to build “war frigates in the Greek shipyards” to increase the Greek naval and military power, diversifying and securing its sources.

American estimates indicate that both the (Greek ports of Elepsis and Sacramangas) are the ideal and potential locations for the production of the future Greek frigate, mainly given their direct confrontation with other Greek ports controlled by the Chinese side, which is the dangerous point in this regard.

The analysis worthy of discussion here is the link between the “US war frigates deal in the ports of Greece”, with the desire of the United States of America to (draw the features of the corresponding model of the Chinese Silk Road through it in the heart of the Greek ports themselves, in order to counter the growing economic influence of China in the ports of Greece), and this is through Washington’s implementation of huge strategic investments in Greek ports, which also coincided with US President “Joe Biden’s decision” to allocate two billion dollars to (besiege Chinese fifth-generation technology in Greece, Italy and all European countries), especially from NATO member states.

The United States of America, through this approach towards Greece, aims at (Washington’s attempt to make all Greek and European ports, infrastructure and digital networks in the service of NATO, while trying to limit Chinese influence within Europe).  In order to achieve this goal, the (contribution of the American International Development Finance Corporation to implement American projects in Greece, Europe, etc.), it stands out as the financing arm on which the US government depends in competing with China’s financing.

The new thing in the matter is the (alternative initiative approved by the Council on Foreign Relations of the European Union in its meeting on July 12, 2021), where its steps are highlighted in the European Union’s proposal for an alternative initiative to the American alternative initiative for the Chinese Silk Road, a few weeks after the announcement  US President “Joe Biden” at the (G7 summit in Britain), Washington’s invitation came at that summit to support the alternative American initiative in confronting China, entitled: “The Initiative to Rebuild a Better World”, and the explicit American mention, that it is an alternative American initiative of China’s Belt and Road.

The European position can be analyzed by proposing another alternative initiative to the American alternative initiative to the Belt and Road China, as if it is a European reaction to prove itself towards Washington – despite the Europeans’ support for the American initiative at the time – as if it is a European message, that it has another alternative European initiative, because of the proposed plan or the American initiative, which is also worthy of discussion, and because Washington is not alone in making political decisions related to NATO, and made the countries of the European Union only (subordinate to the American decision), which is what the European Commission countries have suffered and are now strongly rejecting, as a result of confrontation positions and previous experiences with the United States of America.

The alternative European initiative to its American counterpart can also be analyzed as: (an attempt by the European Union itself to prove itself and its worth in the face of the American penetration in the ports of Greece and Europe, by issuing decisions aimed at positioning the European Union as a clear geopolitical player in front of Washington), so this new European project is added to a previous list of various initiatives launched by the European Commission headquarters in the Belgian capital, “Brussels” in order to (restore Europe to its position on the world stage and emphasize the excellence of the European voice and not to be subordinate to the American decisions or not to allow it to be marginalized by the United States).

Although the success of the European initiative is not guaranteed, it includes an important element, which is not present in the American initiative itself, which is (European planning to set a specific time limit for the completion of existing projects, as well as naming and launching pilot projects). This part in particular could be a great deciding tool, and a reason for the continuity and success of the European initiative, and perhaps consideration should be given to it.

We find that the previous European initiative in the face of its American counterpart faces several problems, most notably: the problem of financing, as (the European Union countries themselves find it difficult to obtain appropriate financing for infrastructure projects on the European lands themselves), and after the exacerbation of global economic crises, especially  After the spread of the Corona pandemic, it became (it is difficult to include more European plans in the financial budget in the coming years).

Although the European Union is aware of this problem related to the lack of funding, it is (the European Union is not yet able to find alternative plans for finding financial resources and additional European financing from the private sector), because it’s a very complicated matter in Europe, in addition to that the European private sector is an inappropriate financing to cover the costs of the alternative European initiative to its American counterpart and of the alternative initiative of the Belt and Road Chinese.

Therefore, it is difficult to be certain of the European Union’s ability to take its initiative and the extent of its seriousness regarding “launching an alternative European Silk Road to China”. However, it is possible to analyze all the European Union’s recent moves, that it is moving in the direction of gaining more independence and European self-sufficiency in the face of imposing the American political decision on them, and in return for the projects launched by Beijing in Europe on the other hand.

Here, we note that the alternative initiative to the Chinese Silk Road, which was approved by the Council on Foreign Relations of the European Union, focused only on the same American track, meaning: (The European initiative may have come from a policy of reaction to the American initiative, and therefore it is not a European initiative  Authentic originating from the heart of Europe, so it is difficult to judge it as a purely European initiative), with the European Union confirming that this initiative would enhance the security of the European and Eurasian region and the “NATO” countries, whether with regard to (energy supplies or the protection of communications networks from China).

The European initiative is also new, and the reasons for linking it to a “globalism phrase” Europe’s alternative Belt and Road Initiative for China is globally connected that can be understood and analyzed. This is a part of it (European geopolitical and strategic connotations), with the approval of the European Council at the end of the meeting.  When launching this European initiative, the Special Rapporteur has the importance of (linking the countries of the European Union with each other more than linking their relations with outside the European circle or institution), provided that this is done through (two means), as the following:

The first method: implementing larger European investments in traditional infrastructure than investments and projects abroad.

The second method: Putting the Europeans to give greater attention to the regulatory frameworks that govern their relations in the first place, including the (existence of rules of the game that are transparent and common to all European players). This is what the Egyptian researcher has understood, that it may mean:

   “The need to unify the European decision front, and not one of its countries to act alone, and to impose binding regulatory laws on everyone, especially with regard to the political and economic choices of one of its countries, or those related to opening its field for investment with other countries outside the European system”

What remains important here and has an analytical significance, is that the announcement of the launch of the “Connecting European initiative Globally”, which didn’t mention to China completely, but explicitly declared the European Union’s desire to cooperate with Japan, India, ASEAN countries and the United States of America, without mentioning China or refer to it in the proposed European initiative.  In my own analysis, perhaps the European Union is trying to (diversify its options, in terms of capital flows for investments and trade routes so as not to depend almost always on relations with China).

We find that the Chinese reaction to the launch of the European Union initiative took a (neutral position, that is, without any public or explicit objection), and China confirmed its welcome to any new proposals to improve European connectivity and infrastructure, given that the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative is open to (international mutual beneficial cooperation for all).

Perhaps the European Commission in “Brussels” intended this European initiative, and linked it globally without reference to China, is the European gradually moving (away from the geopolitical orbit of China), and in order to reach this end, it is assumed that (European Union member states should move coherently,  instead of moving in an individual way that lacks an objective organization).

    Here, the researcher’s final analysis remains, that “unifying European positions towards China has become very difficult”, and this can be inferred by the French and German slowdown, and (their lack of haste in taking any hostile positions towards China in order to protect their economic interests with it). The same is the case for Italy and Greece, the (Chinese market is a top priority for them), because of China’s special importance to the flow of investments and economic interests in them.

  However, in my simple analysis of the content of the European discourse, it attempts to control all exchanges, regarding the commercial interactions and the joint investments between Europe and the outside world, this may take a (new geopolitical path or direction), in which European self-sufficiency and its member states in the (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) “NATO” is the right choice for everyone.

Dr.Nadia Helmy
Dr.Nadia Helmy
Associate Professor of Political Science, Faculty of Politics and Economics / Beni Suef University- Egypt. An Expert in Chinese Politics, Sino-Israeli relationships, and Asian affairs- Visiting Senior Researcher at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES)/ Lund University, Sweden- Director of the South and East Asia Studies Unit