China’s expansionism in the South China Sea indeed serves as a warning to Europe, but not exclusively for the reasons stated in Yasunori Nakayama’s beyondbrics column (FT.com, April 8). For instance, while the state-owned Cosco can engage in vertical integration investments, buying ports along the Belt and Road Initiative, similar European entities cannot purchase and operate Chinese ports.

However, military power projection cannot alter the fact that European ship-owning nations own and operate a large proportion of the world’s commercial fleet, which is critical for Chinese imports and exports. European bureaucrats seem not to realise how strategically important the maritime industry is for the EU.

It is high time the EU took notice of the shipping industry and reoriented its policies to maintain and promote the ship-owning advantage of its members, without sacrificing quality or subsidising underperformers. The capacity to “rule the waves” stems from merchant prowess, not gunboats.

Dionysios Tsilioris
Member, Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers,
Athens, Greece

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