Josep Borrell calls for EU's collective discipline to deal with China

World | 25 May 2020 9:36 pm

The European Union’s top diplomat has called for the bloc to have a “more robust strategy” toward China amid signs that Asia is replacing the United States as the center of global power.

EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell told a gathering of German ambassadors today that “analysts have long talked about the end of an American-led system and the arrival of an Asian century.”

“This is now happening in front of our eyes,” he said.

Borrell said the pandemic could be seen as a turning point in the power shift from West to East, and that for the EU the “pressure to choose sides is growing.”

He said the 27-nation bloc “should follow our own interests and values and avoid being instrumentalized by one or the other.”

But while China’s rise was “impressive,” Borrell said current relations between the Brussels and Beijing weren’t always based on trust, transparency and reciprocity.

Borrell said “we only have a chance if we deal with China with collective discipline,” noting that an upcoming EU-China summit this fall could be an opportunity to do so.

"China is getting more powerful and assertive and it's rise is impressive and triggers respect, but also many questions and fears. As you know, it is fashionable to say that we are reaching a Thucydides moment. Let’s hope not!'' he said.

"I have said it: our relations must be based on trust, transparency and reciprocity. This is not always the case today. We only have a chance if we deal with China with collective discipline. And we hope that the Leipzig EU-China Summit scheduled in autumn will be very important in this regard. Also on that, we rely on you.

"We need a more robust strategy for China, which also requires better relations with the rest of democratic Asia. That’s why we must invest more in working with India, Japan, South Korea et cetera,'' he said. 

"To face all these challenges we need to build a real common strategic culture. We do not have it yet and this weakens our action. The need to act as a Team Europe, or as ‘Europe United’, as my friend Heiko [Maas] has called it, is greater than ever.''

Speaking at the same conference, held by videolink this year due to the pandemic, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas echoed Borrell’s call for greater transparency from China, an issue that has come to the fore over Beijing’s information policy during the early stages of the virus outbreak.

Germany takes over the six-month rotating presidency of the EU in July.-AP


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