China, EU to instill stability in global order

By Dong Yifan Source:Global Times Published: 2018/7/10 18:08:39

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT


The 20th China-EU summit will be held in Beijing next week. The summit comes at a time the international order is floundering as a result of being challenged.

Currently, the European Union is caught up in a complicated situation. Its relations with the US have worsened since President Donald Trump sacrificed European interests for the good of America in several fields, including trade, Iran nuclear deal and climate change.

It's hard for EU-Russia relations to break the ice due to contradictions on the Ukrainian issue. The two sides lack mutual trust and sense of security. In the Middle East, the EU is facing a tough situation in which the Iran nuclear deal is in jeopardy, regional conflicts are intensifying and the security and oil price risks are rising.

Under the circumstances, the EU further recognizes the weight of China as a responsible power, and the summit is a great opportunity to seek cooperation and outlet for its diplomatic dilemma.

The spread of trade protectionism is the most pressing challenge facing China and the EU. The US unilaterally slapped tariffs which undermined the authority and legitimacy of the multilateral trading system under the WTO framework. Both China and the EU have adopted countermeasures.

As the two pillars of multilateral trade, China and the EU jointly signaled that they back free trade, which not only safeguards their own interests, but also defends global order.

The EU has been pursuing the task for some time. European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He co-chaired the 7th China-EU High-level Economic and Trade Dialogue (HED) in Beijing in June. This demonstrated a joint defense of free trade ahead of the upcoming summit.

China and the EU will promote a stable development of the international order through practical steps. The two are proactively exploring the direction of WTO reform, accelerating bilateral negotiations, injecting new momentum into the facilitation of global trade and investment.

According to indications by HED, China and the EU are expected to exchange their negative lists on foreign investment during the upcoming summit, which will be a significant development.

In promoting regional connectivity and getting through the economic passage between Europe and Asia, the EU has recently envisioned Eurasian interconnection, which is complementary to the Belt and Road initiative.

In safeguarding world security and stability, both China and the EU are considered cornerstones. When Washington withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, Beijing and Brussels both resolved to stay within it, not only to defend their common economic and security interests, but also to promote stability in the Middle East.

China and the EU have also become important pillars for promoting global energy conservation and emission reduction since the US withdrew from the Paris climate accord. The two sides have been regarding the accord as a major achievement of world multilateralism and climate diplomacy. The world is expecting a joint declaration against climate change at the China-EU summit.

However, due to long-term prejudice against China in terms of ideology and development, as well as the rapid rise in Chinese economic strength, industrial competitiveness and investment in recent years, Europe's vigilance and wariness about China is mounting.

The EU does not recognize China's market economy status and tries to revise anti-dumping and anti-subsidy legislation against Beijing. They prepare to set new rules on investment, worrying that Chinese investment in their high-tech enterprises and "Made in China 2025" plan would take away their competitive edge.

Geopolitically the EU regards China's cooperation with Central and Eastern Europe as a tool to influence some countries to "split Europe," and claimed that some initiatives launched by Beijing challenge the world order.

The EU's suspicion of China's rise has hindered the improvement of bilateral relations. In today's uncertain world, China and the EU have great potential for cooperation. But the key is whether the bloc can let go of its suspicions and work hand in hand with China in a frank and pragmatic way.

The author is an assistant research fellow with the Institute of European Studies, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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