Pompeo in Dubrovnik Warns Croatia Against Close Ties With China

Lauren Simmonds

October the 11th, 2020 – Mike Pompeo in Dubrovnik attracted a lot of media attention, and the former head of the CIA had a clear message to Croatia when it comes to doing business with the Chinese – Be careful.

As Novac/David Lekaj writes, “Open your eyes when doing business with China,” was the message of the former head of the Central Intelligence Agency, who received his military training at the prestigious West Point and his doctorate in law from Harvard.

Mike Pompeo in Dubrovnik explained the geopolitical dangers and pitfalls of cooperation with China in great detail as part of the “17 + 1” initiative. His statement that “the Chinese just want to take money from Croatia” surprised the Croatian public, considering that newspaper columns have been filled with articles about Chinese investments in various projects within the country for several years. However, what was happening far from the radar of the Croatian public was the presentation of Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma to Chinese businessmen at the “Green Forum” on Tuesday (September the 29th) when he uttered almost the same words as Pompeo in Dubrovnik. All in all, we should encourage our government to seriously consider Croatia’s further role in the “17 + 1” initiative.

What has been achieved from the announced Chinese investments in Croatia? Well almost nothing. In the absence of the realisation of the promised investments, Peljesac Bridge often gets referred to as a Chinese investment, although it isn’t. Peljesac Bridge is an investment by the Croatian Government, mostly financed by European Union (EU) funds. The Chinese simply picked up money to carry out the work. The then Chinese ambassador in Zagreb, Hu Zhaoming, in the midst of some strong media lobbying for Chinese companies, publicly promised that the money that the Chinese state-owned company would receive for doing the work on Peljesac Bridge would be invested in Croatia. As soon as the transfer was made, the Chinese directed all the money to the Italian Port of Trieste, and Ambassador Hu Zhaoming left Croatia for half a term, and was promoted to the high position of Director of the Information and Communication Office of the Central Liaison Department at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Such a modus operandi was pointed out by Pompeo in Dubrovnik. As were China’s combinatorics through the “17 + 1″ initiative, whereby China has networked the transition countries of Europe in order for Chinese companies to gain initial business experience that they currently lack to enter the ”game” with developed EU countries. In fact, the “17 + 1” initiative brings together the “b” and “c” leagues of European countries according to Chinese criteria. In all this, Croatia hasn’t achieved any economic interest and this quite legitimately calls into question the further membership of Croatia in such an organisation from which only China benefits.

Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma appealed to Chinese corporations at the Green Forum on Tuesday (September the 29th) to strive to be at the service of the world to restore China’s degraded image, rather than trying to conquer the global market. In addition, Ma told Chinese businessmen that they should stop considering globalisation a mere effort to conquer the global market and nothing more. Instead, they should properly develop their ability to provide quality products and services, the tycoon noted.

In other words, China’s image is currently and expectedly dismal, as Chinese companies are the world’s biggest plagiarists, unscrupulously using other people’s patents and intellectual property. But you don’t have to go to China to understand what Jack Ma is talking about, just visit the Smederevo steel plant or the Bor mine in neighbouring Serbia, which taken over by the Chinese, and after talking to the locals there it will be clear what environmental issues are at stake in that part of Serbia. If China doesn’t finally make a real turnaround, if it doesn’t become a reliable country that instills confidence in others, that doesn’t “mask” things that can endanger human lives around the world (as it did at the beginning of the current coronavirus pandemic), then such a China quite simply cannot expect the rest of the world to harbour decent relations with it, instead, the world will continue to experience China as it did before – the global cradle of cheap copies.

The harsh criticism of the Chinese Embassy in Zagreb on the statements of the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Dubrovnik was obviously wrongly addressed, as Pompeo spoke in Dubrovnik almost in the same tone as Jack Ma did just a few days ago in China.

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