European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced measures to tighten economic and political ties with China. He, in her opinion, seeks to become a new world leader, which in turn carries certain risks for the European Union. The head of the European Commission fears that China may use its economic power to divide European countries, so the EC will take up the creation and alignment of a common economic policy towards China, reports the Financial Times.
The European authorities intend to tighten the rules for investment in the Chinese economy, as well as complicate the export of high-tech products and technologies, especially those with a double meaning. We are talking about high-tech semiconductors, computer technology, developments in the field of artificial intelligence, quantum technology, robotics and other industries. The EU intends to "draw a clear line" in relations with China in order to prevent the excessive strengthening of one of the strategic rivals.
In her speech, von der Leyen noted that the European Union remains open to mutually beneficial cooperation, but Beijing's desire to intensify repression at home and be more aggressive outside of it cannot go unanswered. Europe does not want to help the rise of China and intends to oppose Beijing where Brussels sees a global inconsistency with its values and interests. Moreover, the European authorities do not want to help China reach new heights in these areas. Against this background, the EU will develop new investment rules for European companies. It is about checking potential investments: they should not increase the risks for European security and citizens.
“A strong European policy towards China relies on close coordination between member states and EU institutions and on a readiness for Chinese divide and rule tactics that we may encounter,” the European Commission chief said.
Also, the European authorities intend to revise the Comprehensive Trade Agreement with China (BTC), which was approved by the parties in 2021, but has not been ratified. Von der Leyen insists that it needs to be redesigned to fit the new realities that are in line with European security and human rights interests. The EU will conduct stress tests on bilateral relations to identify the most vulnerable areas of cooperation for Europe that should be strengthened. As an example, she cited a high dependence on the supply of certain types of raw materials from China.
The tightening of rhetoric against China followed the visit of Ursula von der Leyen to Washington, where she held talks with US President Joe Biden. The United States really called on its allies around the world to put pressure on China, but the level that the EU leadership said, according to the United States, may be insufficient. Brussels still looks forward to close economic cooperation with Beijing, despite differences in security and human rights. The head of the EC did not bypass the topic of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In her opinion, the war put Moscow in the most vulnerable position in relations with China in the history of modern Russia, and Beijing is happy to use this vulnerability.
After the aggravation of relations between Beijing and Washington against the backdrop of the Taiwan issue, the US is trying to promote a policy of weakening China through a ban on the export of high-tech products, in this way the US authorities are trying to weaken China's military potential.