lørdag 28. mars 2020

Coronavirus crisis puts China’s ‘year of Europe’ on hold amid growing unease

It should have been a productive year for relations between Asia’s biggest economy and Europe. China had secured an interim truce in its protracted trade war with the United States in January. And it had turned its focus back to the European Union, seeking to reassure Brussels that its interests would not be damaged by the trade deal with Washington.

EU leaders meeting in Brussels in December had discussed an ambitious agenda on climate change and the economy, calling for cooperation from Beijing. Then the new coronavirus hit. Its rapid spread from the first cases in central China in December to a global pandemic has thrown the world economy into recession, according to the International Monetary Fund. It has also brought Beijing’s political and diplomatic agenda to a sudden halt – 2020 had been dubbed the “year of Europe” by the Chinese leadership – with two key gatherings due to be held in Beijing in March and April postponed, and negotiations on a long-awaited bilateral investment treaty delayed.