The Kovid-19 epidemic means that instead of a red-carpet reception from Germany, the top figures in the other 26 EU member states and Brussels, Chinese President Xi Jinping, will have to negotiate an agreement with Merkel and the president for a video conference. European Union Commission and Council.
Steven Blockman, acting director of the Center for European Policy Studies, said, “Obviously video calling with just three leaders is a huge consolation prize for China. We don’t even know if there will be a final communalism.”
Most long-term observers of EU-China relations agree that 2020 has been a bit of a disaster in that region. It is not just China’s initial poor process of dealing with an epidemic that has started within its borders that has damaged relations; An EU source said Europe’s most senior politicians have been forced to think about what kind of geopolitical actors China is trying to become.
Beijing resented earlier this year when it imposed a new national security law on Hong Kong, which bans segregation, sabotage, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. According to US State Department estimates, at a region-education camp in Xinjiang, the 2015 imprisonment of 2 million Muslim-majority Uygars and other Ottoman minorities has been criticized for causing region-wide rifts. By Beijing.
Chinese authorities have defended the long-running action in Xinjiang to deal with extremism and as required by Chinese law and international practice.
Concern over China’s behavior and how reliable it can be for Europe is felt not only at the level of Brussels. “In 2020 member countries have certainly found China more unbearable,” said a European diplomat who worked on China relations over the past year. Our view is that China is less interested in developing a truly equal partnership with Europe (it is with it) trying to replace Western democracy with its political system and eating our economies from the inside. ”
The low point of 2020 came last month when China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi traveled to Europe to complete key figures ahead of Monday’s virtual summit. Instead of greeting him warmly, Chinese representatives have become accustomed to it, however, he is found as soon as possible.
“To my mind, it was a diplomatic disaster. Most notably in Germany, where he was reprimanded for threatening a Taiwanese politician, urging the breach of security law in Hong Kong and not even meeting Merkel Gone.” Blockmans “Throughout the trip, Chinese propaganda about Hong Kong, the plight of the Uygars, the virus continued. This is the opposite of what you want on a diplomatic visit.”
Balance for america
This disappointment must have been deeply felt in Beijing. At the time of Wang’s visit, the China-run Daily newspaper argued that China and the EU should “jointly (Mike) Pompeo prevent harm to global stability,” citing the US Secretary of State, Washington’s top China One of the long hacks for hacks and state media.
Beijing sees the European Union as a much-needed counterweight for an increasingly aggressive US. This is an idea shared by some people in the continent, as they were wary of being too close to China. In a piece published Wednesday by the Global Times, Europe analyst Shin Hua, a state-backed tabloid with strong links to the Chinese military, argued that “China and Europe need each other.”
“Both China and Europe need mutual support to sustain the process of global governance and regional integration,” Xin wrote. “The international community has been seen repeatedly tearing apart the impression of global governance and fragmenting regional integration. All this has been done by Western countries’ anti-globalization and destructive forces of radical populism.”
Of course, the European Union has previously acknowledged China’s shortcomings. In 2019, Brussels published a paper on its China strategy in which it described the country as both a “strategic partner” and a “systemic rival”. It was an important admission that if the European Union wanted to build a deep, formal relationship with China, it would have to walk a test between conflicting realities.
The specific thing of 2020 is that China’s behavior has increased its position as a systemic rival, as well as strengthening the EU’s belief that a strategic partnership is necessary.
Brussels interest in China is not merely economic. Obviously, foreign direct investment and market access are incredibly attractive to many faltering European economies. But strong ties with Beijing are also reinforcing Europe’s drive to become a major geopolitical player on both diplomacy and climate change.
EU officials have argued that you do not find China, among the world’s biggest polluters and the worst human rights criminals, to sit around a table without an important carrot. They claim that there is no way to bring about global change on anything. They also suggest that the EU’s economic leverage specifically enables it to sit on a call with Xi, where Merkel and co will be able to raise issues such as human rights at the highest level. It would be irresponsible not to do so.
However, critics fear that the European Union’s political divisions, geopolitical ambitions and economic fragility have made Beijing ill-prepared to stand by force. Benedict Rogers, chairman of London’s Hong Kong Watch, said, “The commission likes to engage with issues and make strong statements, as they have recently done in Hong Kong. But in my experience, this is rarely a stern step. ” Estimated Human Rights Group. He believes that the European Union’s “hesitation is partly due to member states not agreeing to handle China and partly the importance of their economic power” – while also not in the nature of making enemies of the EU is.
EU diplomats, to some extent, agree: “There is no unity at the moment as to what kind of relationship we ultimately want with China, so our priority is to build bridges between member states so that we can have a Act as one. “He points to the difficulties facing Germany and Merkel in taking China’s initiative, saying that” there is no enemy in German foreign policy to make more and more friends Is. As a result, they find it difficult to weaken economic power, which. As a problem they are the largest economy in the European Union. ”
Europe’s decades-old dance with China has always been complicated. The European Union recognizes that due to America’s growing hostility with Beijing, there is a space left for a superpower that can develop a strategy to exert its influence over China.
However, the working window for that strategy gets smaller by the day. If the EU cannot find a way to balance relations between the US and China, it is difficult to resist the call with its long-standing Atlantic ally on the global stage.
Otherwise it becomes at risk between the two superpowers.