EU should not be cowed into toeing US line

BEIJING (China Daily/ANN) - The European Commission set out new policy recommendations for its ties with China on Tuesday. The 10-point plan, which will be put to European Union leaders to discuss at their next summit meeting in Brussels on March 21-22, is the bloc’s latest attempt to recalibrate its interaction with China amid changing international realities. 

While stressing the EU’s intention to seek reciprocal economic ties with China and greater bilateral cooperation on climate change and peace, the proposal also touches upon a few sensitive areas, which, if mishandled, could upset the good momentum of China-EU interaction.

While it is natural that the EU should seek to maximize its own interests by trying to balance its relations with China and the United States, it should not lose sight of the bigger picture by turning its back on openness and cooperation. 

With the US pressuring its European allies to shun investments from China and seeking to disrupt the European countries’ technological cooperation with China, it is understandable that the commission should want to show it is taking US concerns seriously by reviewing and even recalibrating its relations with China.

But while Washington decries what it sees as the distortive effects of foreign state ownership and security risks posed by foreign investment in critical assets, technologies and infrastructure — highlighting the security of 5G networks as a prime example — leaders in Europe should know that those concerns and suspicions have not been supported with any evidence. For example, US officials have never provided any proof when alleging that China’s telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies is a security threat.

Although China and the EU countries differ in their political systems and social backgrounds, their common interests, which have expanded over the years, far outweigh their differences.

On the international front, for example, China and the EU have worked closely on all major issues concerning world peace and development. They are staunch supporters of global action to address climate change, global governance, WTO reforms and the Iran nuclear deal.

The European Commission’s proposal will be put forward to EU leaders ahead of the EU-China leaders’ meeting on April 9. It is to be hoped that, instead of fearing they will fall foul of the US, European leaders will view the bloc’s ties with China both objectively and rationally so that any new policy recommendations focus on propelling China-EU cooperation forward.

The EU has everything to gain from promoting healthy and stable relations with China. After all, even against the backdrop of the changing international situation and Washington’s “America First” policy, practical cooperation between China and the EU in various fields has already yielded fruitful outcomes, and there is much potential waiting to be tapped.

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