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Within the immense wealth that popular wisdom offers us, when we refer to China as the new power the saying "there is no greater blind man than he who does not want to see" is perfectly fulfilled.

This vision of the Asian giant as that of a newly emancipated adolescent who, overflowing with energy, defiantly walks away from the paternal path, is so limited and Eurocentric that it obviates facts such as the fact that China was already a world power before Rome formed its own empire.

In this regard the discovery in 2016 of two skeletons of Asian origin in a cemetery located south of the city of London, dated between the second and third centuries , reveals the possible existence of trade relations between the Roman Londinum and imperial China of the Han dynasty.

These vestiges add new evidence of the relations between China and the Roman Empire, already reflected in Chinese documents from the year 166, which record the arrival in the Asian country of Marcus Licinius Crassus, ambassador of Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

This incessant trade tradition between Asia and Europe dates back more than 2500 years, being initially inherited by Asian and Arab merchants through the silk route, and later consolidated in the XIV and XV centuries by the Portuguese maritime routes, which has led to a commercial influence that reaches the present day.

As of today China raises the 100th anniversary of Mao's Communist Party as the renaissance of an expansive culture based on a solid economic model and projected from an eminently pragmatic vision of the world and of commercial relations.

This geo-political influence is directed towards two areas of natural influence: the so-called "String of Pearls" comprising the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and the known "Pearl Necklace", which is the area of the Pacific Ocean. "maritime silk road"., linking Asia with the European continent and Africa.

Thus, this ambition to consolidate its international influence has materialized in more than 25 logistics and port infrastructure projects in the last 10 years, involving the investment of more than 11 billion dollars in 18 different countries on behalf of the Cosco and China Merchants companies (the latter of a majority state-owned nature).

An example of this expansion in the Eastern Mediterranean can be found in the 2016 acquisition of 51% of the Port of Piraeus, the largest in Greece, in the hands of the Cosco Shipping group of companies.

Acquisition which, according to the results (75% increase in cargo volume in 2019 compared to 2013), has been a "successful example of cooperation with mutual benefits" as stated by former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou in a recent interview.


A latent conflict

Successive U.S. administrations have (formerly of Donald Trump, now of Joe Biden)) have gone from watching the Asian giant's moves with suspicion to applying major sanctions against China's trading partners and adopting protectionist measures in industries considered "sensitive". such as semiconductors and 5G.

In response to what Beijing calls a "witch hunt" against Chinese technology manufacturers Huawei, or SMIC (the world's largest chipmaker) among others, Xi Jinping's executive has passed several laws which give Chinese courts the power to sanction companies that comply with foreign laws that infringe on national interests.

This struggle for world economic hegemony is being waged on all fronts; from international institutions such as the WHO or the WTO (to which China intends to implement major reforms) to forums such as DAVOS or the G20, as well as international organizations: IMO, EC ....

Humanity will take on its greatest challenge over the next 30 years. It will have to fight against the depletion of natural resources, against the climate change, against marine pollution and the total loss of its biodiversity, as well as the crisis of the potable water.

Europe and the United States will have to decide whether they want to devote their efforts to competing with China in a version 2.0 of the Cold War or try to face the challenges of the future with the curiosity and respect with which the inhabitants of Londinum were able to observe the customs of those first slant-eyed beings.

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