Highlighting competition with China brings ‘no benefit’ to EU as Brussels seeks to ‘hone’ ties with Beijing
European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell Fontelles speaks to the press ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers during the European Council in Brussels on July 18, 2022 Photo: AFP
Highlighting China’s challenge and competition would negatively impact the political atmosphere and economic cooperation between China and Europe, which will not benefit the European Union (EU) to eradicate its problems, they said. Chinese experts, following the recent statement by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. notes that the EU should treat China more as a competitor and reduce its economic dependence on Beijing, ahead of a two-day summit where European leaders are expected to discuss an “adjustment » relations with Beijing.
Speaking after an EU meeting in Luxembourg on Monday, where EU foreign ministers discussed China for the first time this year, Borrell said China’s role as that “competitor” had become more central in the three-pronged concept of “partner, tough economic competitor and systemic rival” codified by the EU in 2019.
According to a five-page report for EU members of the European External Action Service that Borrell heads, the bloc is called upon to toughen its stance on China, “an even stronger global competitor for the EU, the United States and other like-minded partners,” the Financial Times said. As for potential cooperation with China, the document only includes the areas of climate change, environment and health, media reported.
The Luxembourg meeting is seen as preparation for a debate on China by the 27 EU leaders at a summit starting Thursday in Brussels, during which the EU could “hone its relations with Beijing”, according to a Reuters report.
The EU’s potential shift in attitude came after Washington officially recognized China as its “most important geopolitical challenge” in the Biden administration’s national security strategy. Therefore, some analysts see the EU move as a loyal ‘roger’ echoing the latest US national strategy.
Wang Yiwei, director of the Institute of International Affairs at Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Tuesday that US pressure on Europe to release a report following Washington’s national strategy could be a reason. from the decision of European politicians, but the list China, as a “tougher competitor”, cannot solve its systemic and fundamental problems, such as security problems, energy problems, the decline of the advantages of manufacturing traditional, the slow pace of digital transformation and the rise of populist and social divisions.
The emphasis on competition with China means the EU will no longer value its role in solving global problems, which requires more cooperation with China, Wang said. “But seeking to reduce dependence on China, for example in raw materials and manufacturing, does not represent an increase in Europe’s strategic independence, as it would simply mean relying on d ‘other countries and increase costs.’
Today’s European politicians are better at expressing their emotions and transferring contradictions… In terms of pushing through reforms, there is no one as capable as Angela Merkel, who knows how to manage relations with China and Russia, then Germany flourished for so many years, Wang said.
On Monday, Borrell said Europe should reduce its dependence by diversifying technology and raw materials supply chains on China, given its “vulnerability” to Russian energy supplies. . But in fact, Borrell admitted earlier at the 2022 EU Ambassadors’ Annual Conference on October 10 that the EU’s prosperity is based on cheap energy from the Russian and Chinese market and workers.
Cui Hongjian, director of the European studies department at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Tuesday that Europe, facing the risk of recession, would go against its own interests by emphasizing on competition and reducing cooperation.
Although the strengthening of competition with China has not yet been implemented in a specific system, the signals sent by Western politicians will obviously have a negative impact on the political climate between China and Europe and on the economic and trade cooperation in some areas, since China has been sincerely stressing the need to maintain stability and cooperation in China-EU relations, Cui said.
Cui noted that given the differences in European countries’ relations with China, their demand for the Chinese market and their views on the benefits of cooperation with China, Thursday’s talks between leaders of the EU, as well as the specific policy implementation in each European country, the process of balancing and rebalancing as a true consensus will be difficult to achieve.
Just a week ago, EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis told a conference in Berlin on Oct. 11 that decoupling from China was “not an option” for European businesses, Reuters reported. Dombrovskis stressed that the EU should continue to engage with China pragmatically and without naivety.
Also on October 11, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that decoupling from China would be the “wrong answer” because “globalization has been a success story that has brought prosperity to many people.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a press briefing on Monday that China and the EU are partners, not rivals, calling on the EU to consider China-EU cooperation objectively, to expand common interests and contribute to the stability of the global industry. and supply chains.