China-US-EU strategic triangle unlikely

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/31 0:28:39

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is visiting Germany and Belgium for the annual EU-China leaders' meeting, and this time, his trip to Europe has attracted particular attention.

Over the weekend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a stark warning to Europe that "the times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over" after the meetings with US President Donald Trump at the NATO and G7 summits. She also was quoted as saying that EU nations had to "take our destiny into our own hands." A few days ago, Trump told EU Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker that "the Germans are bad, very bad" over the German trade surplus with the US, according to German media.

The US-Germany relationship has hit a rock. Though some analysts hold that the spats between the two are different in nature from Sino-Japanese conflicts, the disagreements between Washington and Berlin are apparent and the two sides are becoming estranged from each other. It also hit the transatlantic alliance. Though Trump's personal style has played a role in the change, there are also real factors behind it.

As their ties with Washington are shadowed in crisis, Germany and Europe will pay attention to cooperation with Beijing. It's a natural development. However, no matter how EU-US and EU-China relations evolve, it is unlikely that China, the US and the EU will form a new strategic triangle.

Europe is an ally of the US and Germany hosts the second largest number of US overseas military personnel. As Washington still dominates European security issues, the latter cannot play the role to pin down the US politically and militarily. It has grown used to depending on the US.

China-EU cooperation primarily focuses on the economy. As the economy is the focus of current international competition, the promotion of China-EU economic cooperation will have certain strategic impacts.

In addition, free trade, globalization and climate change are where China and the EU can find common ground, which all reach beyond the scope of economic cooperation. They are basic elements in the current international order, and can have far-reaching influences on the world.

However, China's expectations for the development of Sino-EU relations should not get out of proportion. Both China and Europe are unlikely to become a tool for each other to confront the US. At present, the deepening of bilateral cooperation is driven by many factors, but it is a relatively independent system, and its implication to each other's ties with the US shouldn't be overstated.

After Brexit, the EU's influence is declining. It maybe need more of China's support, but this trend will not go too far. The EU recently imposed anti-dumping duties on steel products from China, a good illustration of this point.

This round of EU-US spats is caused by economic interests. As long as China continues its development, it will exert influence not only on ties with the EU, but also with the US. 

Posted in: EDITORIAL

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