https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/world/ ... 574lu.html
Something went badly awry when China’s President Xi Jinping called together the leaders of 17 nations of central and eastern Europe this month. The event was the annual 17 + 1 summit – that’s 17 Europeans and one China. The one easily outweighs the 17 in its sheer economic bulk.
Not only is its economy seven times the size of all the European members put together, it also brings a sack of cash and promises of huge economic benefits each year. It’s Xi’s primary pathway for driving his colossal Belt and Road infrastructure juggernaut, also known as the “new silk road”, across Europe’s poor periphery and into its wealthy core.
The initiative “demonstrates that China has already become a fully fledged European power” said Emilian Kavalski, a professor of silk road studies at the University of Nottingham campus in Ningbo, China, in 2019.
So what would you call the 17 + 1 minus six? An embarrassment, at the very least, when six of the European leaders stayed away from the latest summit.
It “looked decidedly like the 11 + 1,” said Politico’s Stuart Lau, “when half of the 12 EU national leaders invited to the club failed to show up to pay homage to Chinese President Xi Jinping. It’s a stinging diplomatic setback for Xi.” Even the lure of access to China’s coronavirus vaccines failed to impress. And they didn’t even have to make the effort of travelling to the summit – it was held on video link.
Europe's relatively mencicant "eastern half" represents the approx. one half of mainland Europe that had the historical rotten luck of having been coerced into the Soviet Union's Warsaw pact and COMECON alliances for several decades after the end of WW2. The fact that these countries are visibly and palpably poorer than those of the European west (which had the good fortune to be grouped into the western zone (i.e. under US protection but free to trade with whoever they wanted to) in no way reflects the propensity for disciplined work, gainful enterprise etc of their peoples but is a reflection on the decades of lost growth brought on by those futile decades of Soviet/Communist mismanagement. In that and other forms the vile legacy of the USSR lingers on.
When these have collectively become resistant to the lure of PRC cash you can tell that Beijing's diplomacy has hit a roadblock.
Lest any reader still cling to the impression that Europeans have sawdust for brains.Since then, Europe has become more like Macron, less like Merkel. The pandemic, and China’s conduct, hardened mounting suspicion of Beijing. The percentage of people saying they had “no trust in Xi Jinping to do the right thing in world affairs” across six European nations grew by between 9 per cent and 21 per cent in a Pew poll published last October. The total with no trust in Xi now stood at 70 per cent in the Netherlands, 78 in Germany and 80 in France. “If 2019 was the year when Europeans began having serious doubts about Beijing’s geopolitical intentions, 2020 may go down in history as the moment they turned against China in defiance,” wrote Andreas Kluth, former editor in chief of Handelsblatt Global.
“Because China, by trying to capitalise on the pandemic with a stunningly unsophisticated propaganda campaign, inadvertently showed Europeans its cynicism,” he wrote for Bloomberg. For example, in France when the Chinese embassy published a wild accusation that French retirement homes leave old people to die. Or in Italy when Chinese sockpuppets insinuated that the virus had originated in Europe. Or in Germany when Chinese diplomats urged government officials to heap public praise on China.