Washington's lies about 'economic coercion' by Beijing pose real risk
Published: May 18, 2023 11:02 PM
Illustration: Chen Xia/Global Times

Illustration: Chen Xia/Global Times

In the lead-up to the Group of Seven summit that starts on Friday in Japan, the US-led slander of China with so-called economic coercion is reaching a crescendo. This scene is quite ironic: The US, a practitioner of economic coercion, now calls for coordinated action to counter "economic coercion." In the face of such tactics, falling into Washington's narrative trap isn't in line with the interests of other G7 countries. 

Before the G7 summit, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on May 11 that Washington had long considered the possibility of imposing further, narrowly targeted restrictions on outbound investment to China, and had been discussing that prospect with G7 allies. She said the Biden administration was committed to discussing the issue with partners and allies, and viewed coordinated action by like-minded countries as most effective and useful, according to Reuters.

The economic coercion lies are a narrative that the US creates to deceive the world, and its real purpose is to attack the Chinese economy. In recent years, the US has frequently used national security as an excuse to abuse state power and arbitrarily place restrictions on trade and investment with Chinese entities. No matter what excuse the US has used, its purpose remains unchanged, which is to contain China's rise, and form cliques or small circles to isolate China.

The G7 countries - the US, Japan, the UK, Canada, Germany, France and Italy - are all closely tied economically to China. Although Rahm Emanuel, US Ambassador to Japan, said ahead of G7 summit that G7 countries are working on "concrete ways to cooperate against economic coercion from China," according to the Japan Times, the G7 group of countries are not as united as some US officials would like to believe. The US has been trying to cajole and coerce Europe to pick the US side and confront China, but, without a doubt, losing policy independence will hit Europe's interests.

Currently, Europe is grappling with a big debate on its stance and strategy toward China. As geopolitical tensions continue to reshape global economic ties, some European leaders unequivocally rejected the US' push for "decoupling" from China, but at the same time they emphasized a so-called "economic de-risking" strategy that involves many protectionist elements. To some extent, it reflects the inherent contradictions of Europe's economic policy toward China. In these uncertain times, Europe may be susceptible to new concepts such as the so-called "economic coercion," but European politicians should maintain strategic sobriety and, at least, adopt a pragmatic attitude toward China.

Trade and economic cooperation serves as a key piece in the jigsaw for China-EU relations. China is an important trading partner of European countries in G7. For instance, China remained Germany's most important trading partner for the seventh year in a row in 2022. France is China's third largest trading country in the EU, accounting for 10 percent of the China-EU trade volume.

China and the EU, two out of the three major economies and trading parties in the world, have long enjoyed a mutually beneficial economic and trade partnership. With high economic complementarities, the two sides still have broad prospects of economic and trade cooperation in the future. Against the backdrop that the US "decoupling" push is causing worsening disruption to global trade liberalization, it is in line with the EU's interests to steadily promote pragmatic economic and trade cooperation with China, which is conducive to boosting EU's economic growth in face of headwinds.

It is plain for all to see that by all metrics deepening economic and trade cooperation with China yields tangible benefits, instead of bringing risks to the EU's economy. If the EU chooses to neglect the indisputable fact, act against the free economy and trade rules and unwisely fall into the US' trap of countering so-called Chinese economic coercion, there is a real danger for the EU's economy when damage is caused to the economic and trade cooperation between the EU and China. 

Regarding economic relations with China, some European politicians emphasize de-risking. However, falling into US' narrative trap and disrupting the normal economic cooperation with China is the real risk facing Europe.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.