China’s economic expansion in Europe raises security concerns

The Royal Navy

From Peter Apps, Reuters:  (S)everal of China’s projects, some strategists say, may in the long run prove to be more than just business. Vast port projects in Piraeus, Greece and Naples, Italy — the latter also the site of a major NATO base — worry some in European defense and foreign ministries.

Occasional deals — purchases of sensitive technology firms, for example — have been turned down on national security grounds. But in general, Chinese investors have found Europe much easier territory than the United States, where rejection and suspicion have been somewhat more common — although not enough to stop mutual dependence rising swiftly.

"The problem is that Western nations have taken a very short-term view when it comes to China. They view it as a good source of investment and ignore any longer term issues," said Alan Mendoza, executive director of the Henry Jackson Society, a London think-tank looking at national security issues. . . .

Earlier this year, Britain turned down an offer from a Chinese businessman to buy aging aircraft carrier HMS Invincible for scrap or leisure use and is seen likely to reject a similar bid to purchase her sister ship Ark Royal.

A Ukrainian carrier purchased ostensibly as a casino ended up in the service of China’s navy, and there have long been suspicions that any military kit bought by its firms is stripped for intelligence.

"This is an area in which the Chinese are particularly vulnerable and also frustrated," says Nigel Inkster, a former deputy chief of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and now head of transnational threats and political risk at London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies.

"There are often reasonable grounds for suspecting that what appears to be an ordinary commercial venture may be something altogether different, and it is very difficult for a Chinese corporate to prove that negative."  (photo: PA)

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