Data Dominance: In Cyprus, a Chinese Outpost inside the EU

Thanks in part to the BRI, China is set to surpass the United States as the world's leading economy by 2028 and become the standout superpower heading into the 'Fourth Industrial Revolution.'

A key component of the BRI is the Digital Silk Road, DSR, through which the Chinese Communist Party seeks to develop and export key technological infrastructure - including 5G - to participating states, boosting the importance and presence of Chinese tech companies around the world and, to a degree, replicating its digital authoritarian model.

Chinese investments in Cyprus. Illustration: BIRN/Igor Vujcic

In Cyprus, according to BIRN's findings, China now dominates the 5G networks and the island's wider tech ecosystem, creating a key Chinese outpost inside the EU with potentially far-reaching consequences for data security and the independence of Cypriot - and by extension EU - foreign policy.

It is a state of affairs that contradicts US and EU recommendations and the island's own claims to be pursuing a multi-vendor strategy.

5G underpins power grids, transportation and water supplies, and, in the future, will enable military tools including artificial intelligence, said Carisa Nietsche, associate fellow for the Transatlantic Security Program at the Washington-based Centre for a New American Security.

"In extreme cases, analysts suspect China could pull the plug on the network, gather intelligence from data pulsing through the networks or cut off a 5G-enabled energy grid," Nietsche told BIRN.

Chinese investment in Cyprus

In 2015, China's largest private copper smelter, Yanggu Xiangguang Copper, bought a 22 per cent stake in Cyprus-registered copper mining company Atalaya Mining Plc...

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