Europe’s suspicions of China unwarranted

By Cui Hongjian Source:Global Times Published: 2019/2/13 16:33:40

Illustration: Peter C. Espina/GT

Some European countries seem to be increasingly suspicious of China. This can be seen in their anxiety about involving Huawei in 5G rollout, China's so-called "security threat" and Brussels' claim that it has "about 250 Chinese spies," which came out of thin air. If people don't prevent such suspicion from developing into hostility, Europe may be dragged into the trap of a new Cold War.

China and Europe once reached a consensus on issues that benefited both sides, but suspicion has changed that. It was the basic premise that promoted globalization and China-Europe cooperation: Whether to develop 5G internet or not, or who should develop it, should be decided by the market and technology. But some European countries, puzzled by external pressure and internal anxiety, have laid the platform for identity politics and security issues. These countries irresponsibly spread the notion by exaggerating and solidifying prejudice. China-Europe exchanges in economy and culture used to be described as the foundation of mutual trust. But China's presence in Europe was also labeled as "infiltration" and "manipulation" by some people. 

We do not know how the EU came to the conclusion that there are "250 Chinese spies" in the European capital. It is not easy to differentiate the 250 people from the millions of Chinese who visit Europe every year. 

By isolating itself, Europe may harm its political and cultural exchanges with China, which is absolutely unreasonable.

Competition among major countries is getting more intense, and they are becoming more divided. In such context, it's understandable that Europe is feeling more anxious. But one thing should be made very clear: China did not start this round of geopolitical confrontation. China did not create tension worldwide, nor did it engage in security blackmail. China is a victim as well. China is not the one who divides the EU by using disputes between "Old Europe" and "New Europe." This is US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's current mission on the continent. China and Europe are both beneficiaries of a free and open world system, and also victims of a secluded and isolated one. While global trade and economy are facing troubles, China and Europe still maintain increased bilateral trade and investment. The two sides together should protect the open system and create a cooperative atmosphere. They shouldn't hype up groundless speculations, which can distract them from cooperation and jeopardize their mutual interests.

Given its population size, resources and culture, China inevitably is a big power and is building itself into a strong power. However, this shouldn't be the reason for Europe's concerns and vigilance. China has expressed support for European integration and a unified, prosperous and strong EU. It is striving to shoulder more international responsibilities, acquiring knowledge and capabilities by learning from the lessons of human history, and working hard to become strong while not seeking hegemony. China is also trying to build a community of shared future for mankind. Europe, which suffered from two world wars, should be a partner of China rather than an enemy in shaping the future international pattern and preventing big powers seeking hegemony. 

Although there are common interests between China and Europe, some European countries are simply labeling China and Russia as "security threats," and impulsively take sides between China and the US. It seems they haven't learnt from the Cold War and haven't truly realized the danger of a new cold war. Warning Europeans about Chinese spies risks alienating the Chinese people, and blindly following the US will deprive Europe of its partners' trust and cooperation. This is not in European interests and will make Europe an accomplice in dragging the world into a new Cold War. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the end of the Cold War. Europe should recognize where its interests lie, return to pragmatic cooperation with China and resolve the risks of a new Cold War together with China and other responsible powers.

The author is director of the Department for European Studies of the China Institute of International Studies.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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