China to boost talks, cooperation with Europe after ties with US stabilise

BEIJING: China and the EU, as well as major European powers like France, are going to increase communication and boost cooperation, with analysts saying on Tuesday the China-US tensions have been eased to a certain degree after the San Francisco summit, and this will pave way for Europe to be more pragmatic when developing ties with China.

Due to disruption and interference from Washington, the EU and some of its members are unable to have fully independent policy-making capability when dealing with China. After China-US ties have stabilized, the China-EU ties will have new opportunities to seek breakthroughs on some long-standing problems, such as the China-EU Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI). The two sides will also explore cooperation on handling challenges caused by the Ukraine crisis and the Palestine-Israel conflict, said experts.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday called on his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, to carry forward the traditional China-France friendship and push the relations to a new level, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

According to Bloomberg on Tuesday, French Foreign Affairs Minister Catherine Colonna will head to China this week to smooth relations after a European anti-subsidy probe championed by Paris into Chinese electric vehicles raised trade tensions between the two sides.

The French top diplomat will argue for a balanced relationship that respects the EU’s sovereignty, according to a diplomatic source, who asked not to be identified in line with government rules. The EU investigation, which began in September, has led to concerns of “a potential tit-for-tat tariff war” at a time when European leaders are seeking to boost economic independence without losing access to the Chinese market, said Bloomberg.

Apart from the ties with France, Politico reported on November 10 that “the first EU-China summit in four years has been tentatively scheduled for December 7-8,” an anonymous EU official said, as Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market of the EU, became the latest senior EU commissioner to visit China to lay the ground for the meeting.

Those are the dates that both sides are working toward but they still need to be formally announced, the official said. Another senior EU diplomat who asked for anonymity said that the dates of the get-together hosted by China were not yet fully final.

Song Luzheng, a Chinese scholar residing in France and a research fellow at the China Institute of Fudan University, told the Global Times on Tuesday that the current diplomatic activities and those that are going to happen next between China and the EU are long-planned, but the timing is also interesting because after the China-US summit in San Francisco, some obstacles and interruption that used to trouble the China-EU relations will be weakened.

“The US is always the biggest source of negative impacts that could interrupt the development of China-EU relations, and since the Biden administration is now making efforts to manage the tension [with China], it would be a chance for the EU leaders to seek breakthroughs in the cooperation with China,” Song noted.

Gao Jian, an expert on European studies at Shanghai International Studies University, told media on Tuesday that “Although China-EU relations have fluctuated due to the impact caused by the US, the two sides have never departed from the general direction of equality and mutual benefit. The strong resilience and multi-faceted dynamism of China-EU relations remain strong. We can expect a steady growth of China-EU economic and trade relations and closer ties between the two markets.”

During the call with Macron on Monday, Xi said that China is ready to maintain high-level exchanges with France, make sure the next meeting of the China-France high-level dialogue mechanism on people-to-people exchanges is successful, push for new progress in bilateral cooperation in such areas as education, culture and scientific research, and promote friendly exchanges between the two peoples.

Applauding France’s active participation in the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation and the sixth China International Import Expo, Xi said China is glad to see the entry of an increasing number of French products into the Chinese market and welcomes more investment of French enterprises in China.

Macron said that under the current international situation, it is of great significance for France and China to maintain strategic communication and cooperation. The French side is willing to take the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between France and China next year as an opportunity to intensify high-level exchanges with China, and deepen exchanges and cooperation in such fields as economy, trade and aviation, as well as people-to-people and cultural exchanges.

“Hopefully, with the increasing exchanges between China and France, as well as the EU, the two sides can restart negotiation of the CAI which has been frozen due to political reason, and since the global recovery is still fragile, the two major economies need to bring the world more positive and encouraging news,” Song said.

Apart from economy and trade, China and European partners will also likely deepen cooperation and coordination on geo-political hotspot issues, experts noted.

For most EU members, the Ukraine crisis has directly affected their economy and security, while the ongoing conflict in Gaza may affect their internal stability with potential influx of refugees from the region, Song said. “China is respected by Middle Eastern countries, especially the Arab and Islamic nations, and it’s also a responsible and influential major power, the EU and France will need to seek cooperation with China in these fields.”

Exchanging views on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the two heads of state said during the call that it is imperative to avoid further deterioration of the Palestinian-Israeli situation, especially the emergence of a more serious humanitarian crisis. They agreed that the two-state solution is the fundamental way to solve the cycle of Palestinian-Israeli conflicts, Xinhua reported.

Noting that this year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership, Xi said China and the EU should remain partners for mutually beneficial cooperation in a volatile and intertwined world. It is hoped that France will play a constructive role in promoting the positive development of China-EU relations, the Chinese president said.

France hopes to communicate closely with China at the UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai and continuously cooperate to address global issues such as climate change and biodiversity protection, said the French president. Besides, France is ready to promote the further development of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the EU and China in a spirit of mutual respect, mutual benefit and cooperation, he said.

China’s development in the field of new energy is based on the law of the market economy, as well as China’s far-sighted strategic planning and the reality that China has to face during its development, so China has a solid and powerful industrial advantage, Gao said.

“This advantage is not the result of the so-called government intervention or unequal competition, nor will it affect China-EU economic cooperation,” Gao told media, saying that as a unified international organization and economic entity, the EU will not and should not violate the basic principles and positions of free trade between China and Europe only because of the requests from some individuals or its member states.

Protectionism will bring negative effects to globalization as well as China-EU free trade, and it will not benefit the industrial development in specific field for both sides, as the exchanges and cooperation are needed for both sides to better research technologies and develop products, experts noted.


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