The European Union wants to “adjust” its attitude towards China

The European Union wants to “adjust” its attitude towards China
The European Union wants to “adjust” its attitude towards China

On Friday, the European Union announced a “modification” of its approach towards China in order to reduce its economic dependence and push Beijing to pursue a more stringent policy towards Moscow in the Ukraine file.

The foreign ministers of the European Union countries agreed on the outlines of this strategy, which were presented by the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, during an informal meeting in Stockholm on Friday.

It will be followed on Saturday by a meeting with partners in the Indo-Pacific region as part of a forum established in 2021, in which China and Taiwan do not participate.

After the meeting, Borrell announced that the document outlining the new strategy “is considered a very solid working basis. The ministers’ comments will be taken into account to finalize the proposal to be presented to European leaders at their summit in June.”

One of the participants stressed that China remains a partner, competitor and opponent of the European Union, “but with Beijing’s assertion of its strength, it has become the third most important element.”

“Everyone agreed to the document,” a minister told AFP, while French Minister Catherine Colonna stressed that it “fits us perfectly.”

It will be complemented by the Economic Security Strategy, which will be announced by the European Commission on June 21.

With the level of tension rising over Taiwan, divergences have emerged in recent weeks in the orientations of the bloc’s member states, prompting Europe to seek a unified stance in a complex but indispensable relationship with China.

The document, seen by Agence France-Presse, stresses that “China has changed a lot. The rise of nationalism and ideology, the intensification of competition between the United States and China, which is influential in all political fields, and the fact that China is about to transform, all require the definition of a coherent strategy.”

Borrell, who called a short time ago for “an end to the lack of harmony” in positions, said that “EU member states must be more united and act according to a unified policy” if they want to be in a proportionate position “in the face of China’s rise as a superpower.” .

A partner, not a customer

One of the most important contentious files with China is the ambiguity of its position regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine.


Beijing has not issued any condemnation of Moscow, and some of its companies are helping Russia to circumvent European sanctions.

“We cannot have a normal relationship with China if it does not use its strong influence on Russia to put an end to this war,” Borrell said.

Brussels angered Beijing by proposing to the 27 countries to restrict the export potential of eight Chinese companies accused of re-exporting goods to Russia with electronic components and sensitive technologies such as semiconductors and integrated circuits. But China’s Foreign Minister Chen Gang, who is touring Europe, warned in Berlin that Beijing would “respond” if such measures were adopted.

The latter is touring Europe this week, and is on Friday in Norway.

“Any decision has not yet been taken,” Borrell said, adding, “The decision is up to the member states and unanimity is necessary.”

He also stressed the need for the European Union to remain “working” with China despite the differences and called for “reducing excessive dependencies in certain strategic sectors, because when they are very important, they become a threat.”

“We have to find a way to be (the European Union) a partner, not a customer,” said Poland’s representative and Foreign Minister Pavel Jablonski.

For his part, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang said in Oslo, the last leg of his visit to Europe, that China and Europe together should “reject the Cold War mentality.”

European Union ministers and their counterparts in the Asia-Pacific region, during their meeting Saturday in Stockholm, will focus on the security aspect with the tension in the Taiwan Strait, “but it will allow especially to discuss partnerships in a constructive way,” said a senior European official.

“It is out of the question to seek alignment among the participants against Russia during this meeting, and the status quo between China and Taiwan must be preserved to avoid an escalation,” he added.