The EU should think again about labeling China as a rival
Published: Sep 17, 2021 12:37 AM
China EU Photo:VCG


The EU released on Wednesday its State of the Union 2021, in which it described China as "a competitor, even a rival, but also a partner for the EU in terms of tackling global environmental challenges and trade with 1.4 billion consumers."

It also mentioned the China-EU Comprehensive Agreement on Investment which completed negotiation at the end of last year. The agreement "aims to level the playing field for EU companies and inject sustainability obligations into investment relations with China," the State of the Union claimed.

It is not a new narrative of the EU but it needs to be reminded that, if the differences between the two sides keep growing and the bloc further indulges in a rivalry mindset, it will eventually hurt the EU itself.

Though the EU admits it needs to cooperate with China in many fields, what cannot be ignored is that the anti-China voice in Europe has been gaining track over recent years against the backdrop of the intensifying tensions in China-US relations. 

From constantly heightening scrutiny over Chinese investments to vilifying industries from Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region with a baseless "forced labor" lie, the EU has clearly been battering its economic and trade ties with China.

One of the latest examples is that the EU has reportedly opened two data privacy probes over the video-sharing app TikTok which is the overseas version of the Chinese app Douyin. Further details have yet to be revealed, but TikTok has long been facing malicious political crackdowns overseas, from the US to India, even though the app is operating completely outside of the Chinese mainland. 

Also, the EU is planning to agree on a framework for working with the US to screen potentially "hostile foreign investments" when officials from the two sides meet in Pittsburgh later this month, Bloomberg reported. Though the statement may not directly mention investment from China, it has been viewed by the market as targeting Chinese investors, especially in the high-tech sector. 

Observers have pointed out that Western developed countries, as traditional powers, have lost confidence to keep leading the development of the world. Instead, they started to block or delay the growth of China. 

Meanwhile, struggling with economic recession, most of the developed economies clearly understand the significance of the 1.4 billion of consumers of the Chinese market, which makes China attractive as a partner for the EU.

Indeed, the unrivalled Chinese market is offering the most important opportunity for a great number of Western multinationals to recover and grow from the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally,, China surpassed the US and became the largest trading partner of the EU in 2020. 

However, it is simply naïve for the West to attempt to profit in the Chinese market while at the same time containing the development of the country. If the EU or other countries choose to attack Chinese businesses unreasonably or undermine China's core interests, they can expect firm countermeasures.

In other words, if the EU recklessly views China as a rival and keeps making confrontational moves, China may have no choice but to become a rival. 

As for the Chinese people, they always welcome positive and fair competition and they have been seeking common developing goals with other countries and regions. Amid the onslaught of the pandemic, China has been offering countless vaccines and medical supplies to help others fight against the virus. The country has also promoted import expos and other platforms to create recovery opportunities for global businesses.

Cooperation based on mutual respect is the only correct path that will benefit China, the EU, and the global economy. With mutual respect and mutually beneficial cooperation, China and the EU can turn their differences into reciprocal advantages and work together to accomplish significant achievements. The EU should stop indulging in a confrontation mindset based on a crooked ideology.  

The author is an editor with the Global Times.

blog comments powered by Disqus