EU scrambles for unitarian approach to China ahead of Council meeting

EU scrambles for unitarian approach to China ahead of Council meeting

The European Union is gearing up for a meeting of the European Council where leaders will discuss foreign policy, with a special focus on how to develop a unified China strategy.

European Council chief Charles Michel wrote to the 27 head of states that the meeting will look to “reconfirm” the hardened EU stance towards China. The bloc has started to refer to Beijing as a “systemic rival” and an “economic competitor” in 2019.

However, despite the intentions, member states have different approaches to China. Overall, there is an agreement about creating more self-sustained supply chain to not over-rely on China, but on other topics there is no general consensus. The Baltic states and Poland are more aggressive towards China and its unofficial support for Russia during the Ukraine war. They are all reconsidering their trade ties with China. Lithuania also has a long-lasting dispute with China as the Baltic state has been vocal to denounce China’s action on Taiwan.

France and Germany on the other hand are trying to make the EU tone down its stance on China and Taiwan, as both prefer to keep trade relationships growing. Both German chancellor Olaf Scholz and French president Emmanuel Macron recently reassured Chinese prime minister Li Qianq during state visits over their countries will to keep trade relations.

Recently the EU imposed sanctions to Chinese companies over their alleged support of Russia. Before its official announcement, China’s EU ambassador Fu Cong evaded questions to commit Chinese companies to help Russia. In addition, the EU reopened talks with China over human rights in February, after a two-year hiatus. Ahead of the European Council, human rights groups wrote to EU leaders asking to adopt “a concerted, strategic approach to challenge Chinese government policies, practices and narratives that undermine human rights.”


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