GT Voice: Be wary of malicious attempts to sabotage China-EU summit
Published: Dec 04, 2023 09:02 PM
China-EU Photo: VCG

China-EU Photo: VCG

The 24th China-EU Summit will be held in Beijing on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying announced on Monday. Being the first in-person summit in four years, the event is attracting significant attention from observers who are eager to discern whether China-EU relations can overcome current tensions.

Recent months have seen a series of regular high-level dialogues between Brussels and Beijing, focusing on issues including trade, energy and digital affairs. Additionally, Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, visited China in October. 

It is sincerely hoped that the upcoming China-EU summit could send more positive signals regarding strategic mutual trust and bilateral consultations on trade, investment and other issues.

However, we have noticed that some Western public commentaries have emerged ahead of the summit, amplifying the differences between China and the EU and expressing pessimism about the outcome by calling it a "dialogue of the deaf." Even worse, some have directly used the Taiwan question to exacerbate tensions between the two sides.

In an opinion piece published on Monday by the Financial Times, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, a former NATO secretary-general, demanded that the "EU must stand up for Taiwan at the China summit."

His ill-intentioned attempt to instigate the EU to confront China on the sensitive sovereignty issue is apparent. It's aimed at exerting influence on what EU leaders will discuss at the summit through public opinion so as to obstruct the stability and improvement of China-EU relations.

Rasmussen is certainly not acting in the interests of the EU, but for those of the US. His case may also reveal a dangerous inclination within the EU, where some forces are trying to interfere in the theme of the China-EU summit and derail the normal development of China-EU relations by artificially creating new points of political friction.

There have never been irreconcilable geopolitical conflicts between China and the EU, and the economic structures of the two sides are highly complementary, making China and the EU natural partners in terms of economic and trade cooperation. 

China is sincere about improving relations with the EU. For instance, from December 1, 2023, to November 30, 2024, China is offering a unilateral visa-free policy for ordinary passport holders from several European countries including France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain on a trial basis. In September, China issued a document containing draft protocols for the regulation and boosting of cross-border flows of internet data.

These are solid examples of how China is pushing forward China-EU economic relations by resolving some specific issues. This is where we can gradually build up mutual trust.

Of course, in practical cooperation, there are also differences between China and the EU, which is completely normal. For instance, the EU wants greater access for European companies to enter the Chinese market, which is well understood and can be resolved through consultation. 

However, while demanding China to open its market, the EU itself must provide a fair and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese companies. Taking protectionist action in the name of trade remedies is not the right approach to addressing differences. 

We call for caution from the EU in adopting such measures, especially in new-energy sectors such as electric vehicles.

This is also why the upcoming China-EU summit is believed to be a good opportunity for both sides to deepen mutual understanding and manage their differences. Such an opportunity shouldn't be sabotaged by anti-China forces with ulterior motives of playing geopolitical games.

The sooner the EU adopts an attitude of mutual respect in China-EU relations, the better it will be for the development of bilateral relations. In addition to trade and economic cooperation, practical cooperation between China and the EU can play a much bigger role in tackling climate change, protecting biodiversity, and resolving many major international issues.

In this sense, it is necessary for EU leaders and their people to keep their eyes open to understand what Rasmussen and his like are pursuing by driving a wedge between China and the EU, and what consequences this behavior may trigger, to avoid bilateral relations being derailed from the right track.