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The West’s Chinese Crossroads

Against the backdrop of the US-China rivalry, it is tempting to ignore recent strategy changes by smaller players like Canada and Hungary. But these two countries offer radically different models for other countries to consider as they navigate an increasingly fraught geopolitical terrain.

BERLIN – Last month, Canada suddenly announced that it was freezing all ties with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a multilateral lender created by China as an alternative to the World Bank. According to Canada’s finance minister, Chrystia Freeland, the decision comes in response to allegations that the Chinese government has stacked the institution with Communist Party of China officials who “operate like an internal secret police.”

Then, just days later, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó announced that the Chinese company Huayou Cobalt would site its first European factory in Hungary, in the small village of Ács, where it will produce cathode materials for electric-vehicle batteries.

Against the backdrop of the US-China rivalry, it is easy to dismiss these two headlines as trivial. But Canada and Hungary’s leanings are highly relevant to this bigger geopolitical story. While decision-making in Washington and Beijing obviously matters, these strategic bets by smaller countries offer equally important insights into the future of globalization.

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