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Politics

Politics

EU’s Borrell warns China ‘de-risking’ may speed up if imbalances persist

European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell speaks to m... European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell speaks to members of the media ahead of a EU-US Energy Council Ministerial Meeting in Brussels , Belgium April 4, 2023. The U.S. Secretary of State will take part later today in a two days Nato foreign ministers council. Olivier Matthys/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell speaks to m... European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell speaks to members of the media ahead of a EU-US Energy Council Ministerial Meeting in Brussels , Belgium April 4, 2023. The U.S. Secretary of State will take part later today in a two days Nato foreign ministers council. Olivier Matthys/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

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EU’s Borrell warns China ‘de-risking’ may speed up if imbalances persist. Borrell, the head of foreign policy for the European Union, encouraged China to correct economic and trade imbalances on Friday, warning that doing so may “accelerate far more than is good” Europe’s attempts to lessen its reliance on China.

Borrell is in China for a three-day visit and will likely tackle sensitive topics, including trade, the Ukraine, and human rights.

“It is… in our interest to find common ground, to redress the imbalance in our economic and trade relations,” Borrell said in a speech to students at the elite Peking University in the capital.

“Otherwise, de-risking may indeed accelerate far more than is good, as the public opinion will increase its pressure on political leaders to disengage more from China.”

Borrell’s eagerly awaited trip to Shanghai and Beijing was twice postponed and comes one week after the EU opened an anti-subsidy probe into imports of Chinese electric vehicles (EVs), which infuriated Beijing.

Along with China’s tight links to Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, the 27-member bloc’s record $426.08 billion trade gap with the second-largest economy in the world has emerged as a key cause of contention in the relationship.

Borrell said, referring to economic relations, “my question to China is how can we make this interdependency less conflictual,” adding that the bloc and China needed to cooperate more than before.

Brussels has referred to China as an “economic competitor and a systemic rival,” but despite growing geopolitical tension, both parties are committed to resuming their discussions following the COVID-19 epidemic. In the first EU-China High-Level Strategic Dialogue in two years, Borrell is anticipated to question Foreign Minister Wang Yi about market access, the Middle East crises, Taiwan, Ukraine, and climate change.

‘IRRITANTS’

The visit, which follows a series of journeys to China by key EU officials recently, also attempts to build the basis for an EU-China Summit anticipated before the end of the year. A senior EU official stated, “It’s a complicated relationship, and there are irritants.” It’s about being transparent and realistic about what the EU needs to do to protect its interests. Honesty and involvement are key.

The visit offered a “significant opportunity for candid communication,” according to a Thursday editorial in the Chinese state-run newspaper Global Times. Still, it encouraged the EU to preserve strategic independence from the US.

Following Borrell’s positive COVID-19 test in April, China abruptly canceled the trip in June without justifying. The EU official added that a key component of Borrell’s agenda will be persuading Beijing that the EU wants to have a more balanced relationship with China rather than separate from it.

During a recent visit by the EU’s trade head to Beijing, He Lifeng, China’s economic czar, asked the EU to “exercise restraint” in its trade remedy measures. This week, a Chinese car organization said it was assisting EV producers under scrutiny by the EU in defending their stance. As part of a deal with the United States, Brussels is considering anti-subsidy probes into steelmakers generating surplus in nations like China. In advance of the self-ruled Taiwan’s presidential election in January, Borrell will caution his Chinese colleagues against sending deadly weaponry to Russia and any escalation of tension in the Taiwan Strait. “We need to be able to address everything,” the EU official stated.


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