The fact that the EU has not found a way to counter Chinese dynamics is purely due to EU distortions.
Given that the Eurozone is made up of 19 member -countries which may have a common currency but at the same time quite different economic incentives and interests in relation to China and beyond, it shows that China is putting pressure on one to understand why China’s strategy towards the EU is successful and not the other way.
We are therefore given the answer by examining bilateral relations/trade between EU member countries and China. Exports of the main economies of EU member countries to China (2020, Data: IMF) include: Germany €96.4bn, France €17.4bn, Netherlands €15.6bn, Italy €12.8bn.
by Thanos S. Chonthrogiannis
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China-European Union Relations
In the face of the above, therefore, we see that the centre of gravity of the European Strategy is defined by Germany, which has the largest export size to China.
At the same time German-US trade for the same year reaches €171bn while the corresponding trade between Germany and China reaches €212bn.
Given the above economic interests between Germany and China, Germany is the cause as a member country of the EU that does not allow a common European strategy to be implemented vis-à-vis China. Germany is showing a selfish attitude to this issue and not collective as it should be.
Hence Germany’s refusal to follow the US in its strategy of isolating China (for more information please read the analysis entitled “Thorn in U.S. Policy Toward China Germany’s Stance”).
The differences between the member countries and their different interests vis-à-vis China are the area that China is properly implementing its strategy and manages to extract the best possible for its interests.
In addition, EU member countries located in the Eastern EU and close to Russia are the “wall” that the US has erected between Russia and the EU, which is why the leaders of these Eastern EU member countries are each time downgrading the presence of low-level officials in the EU institutions to EU meetings with Chinese officials.
So, given that these Eastern EU member countries are concerned about Russia’s expansionist foreign policy, they do not want in any way to contradict or cool their relations with the US since only the US has the military power to protect them from Russia.
At the same time, China is expanding its influence in the Western Balkans, not being able to stem China’s influence. The strategy of the rapid enlargement of the EU to the Western Balkans with the accession of these countries to the EU is not the right solution, even if there is time pressure and if these Western Balkan countries do not try to adopt European values in their republics.
The fact that China is downplaying the dynamics of the EU was shown by the fact that China responded forcefully to the superficial and lukewarm type of sanctions imposed by the EU on China.
In addition to sanctions imposed against five European MEPs and academics, China has also launched a consumer boycott against European multinationals with a strong presence in China.
So, the fact that China is downgrading the EU’s momentum is since the EU does not have us military and economic power.
But contrary to what is expected, Chinese sanctions against the five MEPs have rallied the European Parliament and it is more likely that the Comprehensive Investment Agreement between China and the EU reached at the highest level on 30 December 2020 will not be passed.
If it is not voted on, the US gains a comparative advantage given that both China and the EU chose that time before Joe Biden took power and when there was a power vacuum in the US. Despite Joe Biden’s warnings to the EU not to go ahead with this deal, the EU has moved on to it. If the US is no longer voted on, they will be able to push for it not to happen again.
Nevertheless, the EU will begin to squeeze between the emerging Eurasian alliance and the US sphere of influence. 97-year-old Henry Alfred Kissinger in an online debate on the future of liberal democracies organised by the British Clavam House Institute (25/03/2021) said that “The West must believe in itself. This is our internal problem, not a Chinese problem.”
Perhaps the West should become more confident in its initial search for where the world is today and who has brought the world to this rapid progress over the last five hundred years.