EU-China ties and new realities

Written by The Frontier Post

Chinese President, Xi Jinping, has suggested to the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, during a telephone call on Friday, to ensure that the European Union follows the correct political line towards Beijing. During the conversation, Xi expressed hope that the German leader will help the EU to firmly pursue the correct policy towards China by objectively taking into account the differences between the PRC and the EU and rationally eliminate the contradictions with Beijing.

President Xi noted that both sides need to ensure the sustainable and harmonious development of China-Europe relations and for that end, Beijing and Berlin must strengthen mutual trust and interact on an equal basis. According to the Central Television of China, the German Chancellor proposed to the Chinese leader to strengthen the dialogue on Afghanistan at such multilateral platforms for interaction as the UN. Xi informed Merkel that Beijing is ready for constructive interaction with Berlin on this issue for the sake of peace and stability in Afghanistan. The two leaders also discussed bilateral relations, economic issues, international efforts to protect the climate and combat coronavirus pandemic, as well as other international topics.

The European Union and China are the world’s second and third largest economies respectively, however both sides have had a strained relationship in economic, trade and political domains over the past decades. The EU remains a complainant of Chinese trade barriers in their bilateral trade and have been raising this issue with Chinese authorities during the past. The EU also has reservations over the human rights situation in China and was continuously advocating for visualization of human rights development through EU-China human rights dialogues (HRD) in past years. However, China did not give much importance to EU calls for promotion of human rights in mainland China as well as autonomous regions of Hong Kong and Xinjiang. EU and China are regularly holding annual EU-China strategic dialogues for standardization of their contradictions over bilateral trade and investment, while working for accomplishment of the agenda 2025. Besides huge differences over bilateral trade and human rights issues, EU bilateral relations with China remained heavily influenced by the United States policies toward PRC during the past decades.

After World War II, the United States took a leading role in world politics and the EU set its direction according to America’s compass. Later, after the foundation of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) the EU completely linked its foreign policy according to American desires. Both international partners US and EU have been following coinciding policies on most of the regional/ international issues including wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Palestine and Kashmir issues, Syrian and Yemeni disputes, policy toward China, Russia, Iran and North Korea and situation in Indo-pacific regions etc.

However, indecisive war in Afghanistan and US’s unilateral troops withdrawal and unplanned evacuation from Afghanistan has caused serious concerns among the EU nations regarding America’s credibility in the days to come. Currently, EU countries are considering various options to end their dependence on the US including creation of an EU Army. Amid such an evolving situation, President Xi smartly picked the pulse of an important EU member nation and guided it to motivate other colleagues to protect their interests and avoid enticing them into any provocation. Although Xi has made a preemptive strike against the United States, its effectiveness would be realized after some time.

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