EU and China ink new deals as US blunders alone

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/10 21:43:40

Photo: Xinhua

The 10th round of the China-EU high-level strategic dialogue was held via video link on Tuesday. The two sides agreed to develop closer ties on a wide range of issues. 

Josep Borrell, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, told reporters in a video conference after the talks, "I understand that for China to be presented as a systemic rival is something that looked a little bit controversial," but the term doesn't mean the EU sees China as a security threat. 

Borrell also underlined that the EU had a lot in common with China. His remarks signify a different EU stand on China than the position adopted by the US. 

Washington, against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, has enlarged its containment strategy toward Beijing. The widely discussed national security legislation for Hong Kong has also been used by the US in an attempt to contain China. 

However, Borrell said on May 29 after a video conference of the EU's foreign ministers that the bloc expressed concern over the Chinese central government's decision to enact a national security law for Hong Kong. 

"I don't think that sanctions are the way to solve problems in China," Borrell said, distancing the EU from the US on Hong Kong affairs. 

The US has targeted not only China, but also the EU in areas such as regional security and trade. This has driven the EU gradually apart from the US in terms of policymaking.  

The EU nowadays has realized it has plenty of serious differences with the US when it comes to many issues. These include climate change, free trade, environmental protection, the Iran issue, whether to uphold multilateralism, and the fight against COVID-19. The US announced on May 29 to withdraw from the World Health Organization, while China and the EU have maintained a high degree of consistency on supporting the WHO to play a critical role in the global pandemic fight.  

In the post-Merkel era in Europe, there seems to be a shift in the EU's strategic decisions. That is to say, the bloc is likely to no longer view China as a systematic rival. It's reported that the EU will prepare a new strategy document on China. This further indicates it might have new considerations on how to define China. This seems to be an important signal. 

The core of the EU's diplomatic strategy is picking no sides and seeking independent diplomatic status and interests within the international political system. Even if future US presidents manage to fix bilateral ties with Europe, the bloc is unlikely to change its neutral manners of politics and economics. 

The personality and moves of US President Donald Trump have aggravated disputes between the US and Europe. Noticeably, such discords have been in existence for a long time. But Trump has to some extent poured gas on fire. 

The contradictions between the EU and the US in terms of global politics and economics are crystal clear. Take the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and free trade. Washington believes it has done too much but gained too little. There are systematic disputes in bilateral ties. This cannot and will not be changed no matter who the US president is. Besides, the disputes will probably continue simmering.

From the perspective of general strategic development, China-EU bilateral ties will be engaged in a virtuous circle as they work hard to better understand each other. The EU has probably realized that its vital diplomatic interests are linked to a harmonious coexistence with China. Therefore the bloc will pick no sides. 

The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Yu Jincui based on an interview with Gao Jian, a scholar at Shanghai International Studies University. [email protected]

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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