China reminds EU to chart its own course as European leaders reach out to Biden
China called on the European Union to keep charting its own course on Beijing on Monday as US president-elect Joe Biden reached out to the bloc’s political leaders to build a transatlantic alliance.
In a phone call with Josep Borrell, his counterpart in Brussels, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged the EU to avoid a new cold war and economic decoupling.
The call came on the same day as European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke to Biden for the first time since his election. It was also just before Biden announced Antony Blinken as his nomination for the next secretary of state.
Wang asked Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, to brief him on the bloc’s initiative for a dialogue with the US, specifically on China policy, according to a diplomatic source.
“China hopes that Europe’s strategic autonomy can be reflected in the formulation and implementation of a correct China policy,” Chinese state news agency Xinhua quoted Wang as saying.
“The relations between big nations should not be either/or, let alone a zero-sum game. China hopes the EU can establish a China policy framework based on cooperation.”
While Borrell stopped short of invoking “strategic autonomy” – a phrase preferred by French President Emmanuel Macron but avoided by German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer – he stressed that the European Union would continue to pursue its policy on China based on its interests and values, according to an EU statement.
“Borrell also emphasised that the EU remains committed to building a comprehensive relationship with China, again taking into account the EU’s interests and values and based on mutual commitment and reciprocity,” the statement said.
Borrell also expressed concern about the latest developments in Hong Kong, as he “stressed the importance for China to respect Hong Kong’s autonomy under the ‘one country, two systems’ principle”.
On the EU-China investment agreement due to be completed by the end of this year, Wang said China would work with the bloc to speed up the process of reaching a deal. Borrell said the result of the negotiations would be important for overall EU-China relations.
Zhu Guangyao, former Chinese finance vice-minister, said China expected a united front among the 27 EU countries to agree to the investment deal still under discussion with China which, if confirmed, could see greater market access to China for EU companies.
Meanwhile, the two heads of the EU reaffirmed to Biden their intention for a transatlantic alliance over the next four years.
Von der Leyen, head of the EU’s executive arm, said on Twitter that the EU and US “working together can shape the global agenda based on cooperation, multilateralism, solidarity and shared values”.
Michel, who leads the EU Council which comprises the 27 heads of government, “proposed to rebuild a strong transatlantic alliance based on common interests and shared values” and “welcomed the strong commitment of president-elect Biden to America’s allies and his support for European cooperation”.
“Now is the time to join forces,” Michel said. “In a changing world, our partnership will be more important than ever to protect our citizens, relaunch our economies, stop global warming and create a safer world. The EU and the US will always have more impact when taking steps together.”
Michel invited Biden to a special meeting with the members of the European Council in Brussels next year to discuss shared priorities. There were earlier plans to invite Chinese President Xi Jinping to a similar event, but no details have been confirmed.