By Li Qingqing Source:Global Times
Although the EU’s attitude on some China-related issues is influenced by the US, Europe will not blindly follow US moves to oppose China, but will proactively promote the development of China-Europe relations in the post-pandemic era. This was the message that could be got from the 10th round of the China-EU high-level strategic dialogue held on Tuesday via video link.
“It is clear that China has a global ambition. But, at the same time, I do not think that China is playing a role that can threaten world peace,” EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said at the press conference after the dialogue. He also said that the EU respects the development path chosen by the Chinese people.
Obviously, the EU did not echo the US attitude of launching a new cold war against China. As traditional partners of the US, European countries used to rely heavily on the US in terms of diplomacy and security. But now, as China-US relations become tense and the US government is addicted to the “America First” policy, many European countries have stopped following the US and started to seek greater diplomatic autonomy. They have further realized the importance of cooperating with China and maintaining multilateralism.
There will be more differences on China-related issues between the attitudes of the EU and the US. For example, the EU followed the US to express its “grave concern” at China’s national security law for Hong Kong, but Borrell also emphasized that he does not think that “sanctions are the way to solve problems in China.” The EU is trying to distance itself from an aggressive US. Amid intense China-US competition, the EU will not put ideology above national interests, but will rationally weigh its relations with China and the US.
“A systemic rival promoting alternative models of governance” – this is how the EU Commission described China in a communiqué released in March 2019. However, Borrell said that the term “systemic rival” is a bit controversial for China. He said “it is clear that we do not have the same political system,” adding that China is still badly needed in many international issues.
This reflects the EU’s pragmatic attitude and its different position from that of the US on governance systems and other ideological issues. The US stubbornly regards China’s rise as a threat and attacks the Chinese system, but Borrell’s view shows that the EU respects the path chosen by the Chinese people and wishes to deal with global challenges together with China.
China welcomes the EU to develop comprehensive and stable relations with it and jointly protect the multilateral world order. The raging COVID-19 pandemic has further proven that the world cannot survive without multilateralism. The choice of the EU as an important pole worldwide is undoubtedly an indicator.