mandag 18. april 2022

Europe’s China Policy Has Taken a Sharp Turn. Where Will It Go Next?

In their first such meeting in nearly two years, representatives of the European Union and Chinese government met on April 1 for a virtual summit. European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen held meetings with both Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping.

The conversations took place against the backdrop of not only unprecedented unity among the members of the 27-nation bloc in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but also a renewed closeness with the U.S. Both factors, on top of several years of cooling relations between Europe and China aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and Beijing’s policies in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, complicate Beijing’s use of the forum as a means for forging closer ties with Europe amid the deterioration of its relations with the U.S. China’s position on the war, its resistance to sanctioning Russia, as well as its recent trade actions against Lithuania did not appear to leave much room for the forging of common ground. And the summit ended with no deliverables and no joint statement.

What does this augur for the future of European-Chinese relations? How, if at all, might a new degree of EU-U.S. unity cause Beijing to change tack?