‘Garden Diplomacy’ – Opinion – Chinadaili.com.cn | Daily News Byte



The EU and China should show care, persistence and patience to foster better relations

At a time when many traditional European democracies, plus the United States, are experiencing alarming signs of internal challenges, they are trying to delegitimize aspects of the Chinese system by promoting a Eurocentric traditional approach. This has helped fuel geopolitical tensions. The consequences of that are clear.

The European Union and various European capitals should persevere in attempts to free themselves from their reliance on the US and persevere in attempts to gain more strategic autonomy, which includes enhanced dialogue and cooperation on issues of global importance with various non-Western capitals, including Beijing.

One of the key aspects is maintaining engagement, or in other words, strengthening the pillars of globalization. Similarly, separation, trade wars and technological disruption are pointless, as is evident in the so-called chip war currently being waged by Washington against Beijing. Separation is not an option, neither for the EU nor for China. Last November, speaking about Washington’s push to ban high-end chips to undermine China’s high-tech sector, the EU’s high representative for foreign policy and security, Josep Borrell, said in a keynote: “Certainly, the United States is our most important ally, but, in some cases , we will not be in the same position or on the same approach towards China”.

The influential former foreign minister of Spain, Javier Solana, who was also the head of the EU’s foreign policy (a few years before Borrell), said recently that diplomacy is like gardening. His metaphor of care, persistence and patience is relevant and imperative in directly appealing to perseverance in the collective effort to combat climate change. Let’s recall that Brussels welcomed China’s announcement to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060 and reiterated its willingness to cooperate on climate and biodiversity issues. In general, this also applies to COVID-19, especially now that China’s borders are reopening to some extent. Europe and China could strengthen bilateral and international cooperation, sharing updated knowledge. In addition, such an updated framework would allow both parties to better anticipate and manage potential future pandemics.

Additionally, while it is true that EU leaders have called on Beijing to fully participate in multilateral debt relief efforts within the framework agreed upon by the G20 and the Paris Club, such efforts could certainly include the Belt and Road Initiative. Especially now, international infrastructure efforts in various countries are gaining new momentum after the pandemic-imposed standstill.

The sensitive issues blocking the EU-China Comprehensive Investment Agreement — which has been agreed but has yet to be ratified by the EU — should be resolved through bilateral negotiations and smart lobbying, so that it can be implemented in all its dimensions. Europe should bear in mind that it is an instrument that provides unprecedented market access to EU investors, giving European companies security and predictability in their operations, as well as Chinese companies. As stated, CAI will significantly eliminate abusive practices, thus offering a more level playing field and fairer treatment when competing with each other in the markets.

Chinese FDI in Europe: 2021 Update, produced by the Rhodium Group in New York and the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Berlin, summarizes China’s impact on investment in the EU and the UK. It shows that Chinese venture capital investment is pouring into European tech start-ups at a record level, reaching 1.2 billion euros ($1.24 billion), more than double the amount in 2021. Much of it has concentrated on fintech , e-commerce, artificial intelligence and robotics, vibrant fields of collaboration.

In 2023, Spain and China will celebrate the 50th anniversary of their diplomatic relations, which is an excellent opportunity to explore latent synergies. In doing so, Madrid and Beijing could show a strengthened path for EU-China ties when it comes to promoting multilateral understanding as well as cooperation in third markets.

The author is a professor at the Esade educational institution at Ramon Llull University and director of the Dialogue with China project, Spain. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily.

Contact the editor at editor@chinavatch.cn


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