Tension between EU and China

Tel Aviv, Israel: As China is trying to expand its reach in global geopolitical landscape its relation with EU is getting affected.

Writing for the Times of Israel (TOI), Italian political advisor Sergio Restelli stated that there is a shift in Europe’s stance from treating China as a strategic partner to now a strategic rival stems.

Restelli, who is a geopolitical expert, argued that the notion comes from the belief that Beijing has shown scant regard to the EU’s concerns and is using the continent to advance its own interest.

Earlier this year, the EU released its own Indo-Pacific strategy policy paper, which the experts regarded as an unprecedented declaration that promises to put Europe at loggerheads with China.

“Democratic principles and human rights are also under threat from authoritarian regimes in the region, putting the region’s stability at risk,” says the document, as seen by the Nikkei Asia newspaper. “Similarly, efforts to establish a global level playing-field based on transparent trade rules are increasingly undermined by unfair trade practices and economic coercion. These developments increase tensions in trade, supply and value chains.”

It expressed concern over China’s continued military pressure, assault exercises, airspace violations and disinformation campaigns against Taiwan. This comes at a time when China is pursuing a “stronger global role” that poses threats to rules-based multilateralism and core democratic values.

“This shift in Europe’s stance from treating China as a strategic partner to now a strategic rival stems from its belief that China under Xi Jinping has shown scant regard to Europe’s concerns and is using the continent to advance its own geopolitical and geo-economic interests,” the Italian expert said.

According to Restelli, Beijing’s continued evasiveness on COVID’s origins and tactics like the “Werewolf diplomacy” have only added to the EU’s scepticism. Experts familiar with the issue believe that EU-China ties have deteriorated to the lowest point since 1989, the year of the Tiananmen Square incident.

“Since then, however, there has been growing engagement between the two sides as both expanded trade and economic cooperation, driven by the EU’s concept of reciprocity. The relative stability of China’s relations with the U.S. also contributed to this dynamic,” Restelli stated.

Amid the growing Chinese aggression and ongoing developments in Afghanistan, the European Union is now seeking new digital partnerships with Japan, South Korea and Singapore, and closer trade and investment relations with Taiwan.

This push by the EU is aimed at building influence in Asia after the messy US and NATO military exit from Afghanistan, Nikkei Asia reported. According to a draft strategy document, the bloc will seek to reinforce semiconductor value chains with Asian partners as the pandemic amplifies fears about industrial supply chain vulnerabilities.

Earlier in May, members of the European Parliament had voted to freeze the legislative process for ratifying the EU’s investment pact with China, until Beijing lifts sanctions against EU lawmakers, in retaliation for the condemnation of human rights abuses in Xinjiang province.

The sanctions imposed by the EU on China in March marked the EU’s first punitive measures on Beijing since it imposed an arms embargo after the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident.

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