torsdag 7. januar 2021

India self-isolates as China's economic might enfeebles West

On Dec. 31, the European Union and China agreed to an investment treaty that will improve access to each other's markets. The Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, clinched after seven years of arduous negotiation, could potentially boost trade and investment between the EU and China by billions of dollars. The deal, which still needs to be ratified by the European Parliament, has already faced criticism within the EU over long-standing human rights concerns in China and from officials in the incoming U.S. administration of President-elect Joe Biden pushing for a united front on China.

This is a far cry from what many Western leaders were saying after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, it appeared that Western nations might forge common cause and stare down China, both for being less than forthcoming about the spread of the virus which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan and unresolved tensions over the widely held belief in Western capitals that China is an unfair trader.

So what changed? For the EU, commercial advantage clearly won out over its much-vaunted commitment to human rights and fair trade. Especially after the U.S. secured its phase one deal with China, reality sunk in, and Brussels and Berlin realized that the European trading bloc might increasingly be frozen out of global supply chains which, despite everything, are still largely China-based.