Following US Cold War path undermines Europe’s position

By Wang Wenwen Source:Global Times Published: 2019/2/12 20:03:34

Which of the major powers poses a bigger threat: the US, Russia or China? This seems to be a contentious world issue. The finding of the Pew Research Center's Spring 2018 Global Attitudes Survey shows that more people worry about the threat posed by the US use of power and influence. 

Noticeably, 49 percent of respondents in France and Germany saw the US as a threat. Many US allies, according to the US intelligence community's annual Worldwide Threat Assessment report, are "seeking greater independence from Washington in response to their perceptions of changing US policies on security and trade."

Coincidentally, a study carried out by German research organization Civey and the not-for-profit group Atlantik-Brücke (Atlantic Bridge) shows that Germans have an increasingly negative view of US-German relations, with many seeing China as a more reliable partner. 

At a time when the US feels China will surpass and challenge its supremacy, Washington turns its back on the very order that it established after World War II with the aim of holding onto its own dominance. 

But the order the US is destroying is the order everybody lives in, including Europe.  The continent, with its declining global influence, is trying to figure out if it should engage in a more wide-ranging strategic cooperation with China or fall into the US Cold War orbit. 

The relationship between China and the US is in no way the same as that between the US and the Soviet Union which had little economic interaction but much military confrontation. By the same token, China-Europe relations do not feature the antagonism of Eastern and Western blocs during the Cold War era.

Yet some in Europe are still fanning the flames. Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute in London, UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson outlined plans to send Britain's new aircraft carrier to disputed waters in the Pacific in a message to Beijing. Concerning China and Russia, he said, "Russia is resurgent - rebuilding its military arsenal to bring the independent countries of the former Soviet Union like Georgia and Ukraine back into its orbit. All the while China is developing its modern capability and commercial power."

Ironically, Downing Street distanced itself right away from the defense chief's comments, with Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman saying relations with China are "strong and constructive."

As a December editorial of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy pointed out, Europe and the US converge on concerns toward China but differ profoundly on the approach. The US treats China as a rival, but Europe does not necessarily need to do so. If Europe follows the US Cold War approach, it will only undermine its own position in international politics, squeeze its room for maneuver and ultimately risk its own interests. 

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