EU-China relations should not be tied to the Ukraine crisis: Chinese envoy to EU
Published: Apr 24, 2023 12:09 PM
Ambassador Fu Cong, head of the Chinese Mission to the EU. Photo: Courtesy of Chinese Mission to the EU

Ambassador Fu Cong, head of the Chinese Mission to the EU. Photo: Courtesy of Chinese Mission to the EU

The EU should not view the China-EU relations through the "prism" of the Ukraine crisis and should not sacrifice the China-EU relations and the interests of China as the cost to develop its relations with the US, Fu Cong, head of the Chinese Mission to the EU, told Chinese media outlet the Paper in a recent interview.

On the two factors affecting the China-EU relations: the Ukraine crisis and the influence of the US on Europe, Fu noted. "I want to emphasize that China maintains a long-term stable policy toward Europe and treat the region as strategic partner… The Europe should not view the China-EU relations through the prism of the Ukraine crisis and sacrifice the China-EU relations and interests of China to develop its relations with the US," the Chinese diplomat said.

Recently, more and more European politicians agree with the calls for Europe to achieve strategic autonomy and value its relations with China, opposing blindly following the US' China policy. We hope and believe that the EU has the courage, wisdom and capabilities of achieving the true strategic autonomy, Fu said.

In recent weeks, the EU has witnessed a wide debate following comments from French President Emmanuel Macron in the wake of a visit to China, during which he called for the EU to reduce its dependence on the US and avoid getting dragged into a confrontation between China and the US over the Taiwan question. The French leader also said Europe must resist pressure to become "America's followers."

As the Ukraine crisis is the most pressing issue for European countries, it has also become the "backdrop" for how Europeans view other issues.

For example, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the Ukraine crisis would be a key determinant in EU-China relations and EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell said China's support to Russia in the Ukraine war "will determine the quality" of its relations with the EU, according to media reports.

"Since taking office at the end of last year, I have repeatedly emphasized to the EU that like China's bilateral relations with any other country, China-EU relations are multi-faceted and not based on a single issue," Fu said.

China-EU relations are not aimed at, dependent on, or subject to any third party. The relationship between Europe and China should not be tied to the Ukraine issue, the Chinese envoy said. "China is neither the instigator nor the participant in the crisis in Ukraine. China is also a victim of this crisis, and it is groundless to blame China for its role in the crisis."

In the eyes of Chinese envoy, the recent visit of Macron and von der Leyen sent out a signal of enhancing communication and exchanges between China and EU, pushing forward the bilateral and multilateral dialogue and cooperation and managing divergences in a constructive way. Fu said it will be conducive to the development of China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership, injecting more stability to the global situation. "The EU side is satisfied with the reception of the Chinese side."

When the EU side talked about the Ukraine crisis, they often referred to the "no-limits partnership" between China and Russia in order to cast doubts on whether China holds a neutral stance on the issue.

"Some European officials have repeatedly mentioned this matter, which involves some misunderstandings and prejudices, and I have made many clarifications on this matter," Fu said.

Europe should have a correct view of the relationship between China and Russia. China-Russia relationship adheres to the principles of non-alignment, non-confrontation, and non-targeting of third parties, and also adheres to mutual respect and trust. It not only promotes the development and revitalization of both countries, but also strives to maintain international fairness and justice, setting an example of a new type of major-country relationship, Fu noted.

China has always insisted on developing friendly cooperation with all countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-Existence. We have always believed that friendship and cooperation between countries have no limit and should not be artificially restricted. Cooperation between China and Russia has "no limit," and the same goes for China and Europe, he said.

"We must also remain vigilant against attempts to sow discord between China and Europe through the use of China-Russia relations," Fu said.

Since the Ukraine crisis, China has been straightforward and candid about what it has and has not done. However, we have seen that some countries and individuals repeatedly fabricate and hype false information such as China's "prior knowledge," unlimited cooperation between China and Russia, and China's provision of weapons, the Chinese diplomat noted.

"Their aim is to spread rumors and smear China, and sow discord between China and other countries, in order to achieve their hidden agenda. Fortunately, more and more European people have begun to see through the hypocrisy and malicious intentions of these individuals, and are striving to maintain an objective and rational attitude toward China-Europe relations," he said.