Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Catering to US Interests Will Hurt EU
Global Times
2019/3/25 22:08:41

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker are scheduled to make a special trip to Paris on Tuesday. They will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is visiting France, together with French President Emmanuel Macron.  Such rare arrangement shows Europe highly values Xi's visit. This is also the EU's effort to unify foreign policy and coordinate their China policies.

China-EU cooperation is rapidly developing, and China has been rising following high-speed growth. These are the two perspectives of European elites on China. Economic cooperation benefits European countries, and it's an important driving force of Europe's development when the US can't provide enough momentum. But some Europeans are afraid that China will bring new competition. Their attitude toward China is self-contradictory.

China-EU relations are complicated as they are both large economies. But Europe should understand what its major challenge is.

The EU has an economic aggregate larger than that of China and of the US. But the EU's international influence and competitiveness lag behind the US. The world's technological capability is essentially monopolized by the US, and Washington dominates international politics. Although the EU is huge, the bloc is not unified and faces problems of solidarity. This is why the bloc is much weaker than the US.

How can the bloc be more united? First, the EU needs to assert its independence. Sometimes, taking into account the collective interest, Europe has to yield or partly yield to Washington's requests which they don't like.

During the US-led invasion of Iraq, France and Germany opposed the US. Consequently, Washington broke with the two countries and labeled them as "Old Europe." The US also formed a coalition with the UK and mustered "New Europe" to teach France and Germany a lesson in diplomacy.

Another weak point is Europe is too dependent on the US on security and is constrained by NATO. The EU's independence can't be realized if it is dependent on security.

Third, it seems that Europe and the US share the same ideology. However, the truth is, they don't. Too much US national interests have been plugged into Western ideology, where the interests of Europe are marginalized. Hence, the so-called universal values of the West actually represent what the US wants.

Europe has become numb under the rule of the US, but some Europeans are sensitive to China's rise, claiming China is challenging the strategic interests of Europe. They don't dare to provoke Washington, so they use Beijing as an excuse for Europe's problems.

Germany sells more cars in China than in the US. Beijing didn't set extra limits on top of existing rules, but continued to reduce tariffs on them. China has never demanded that Germany and Russia stop building natural gas pipelines or requested EU companies to quit Iran. It is the US which is doing that kind of thing.

The EU can compete with the US in economy and technology, but some want to maintain the EU's secondary status by excluding China. Either the EU forges ahead or will fall behind. Suppressing China won't bring the EU a promising future.

The world is changing, and the EU should identify its problems and make strategic adjustments. US interests are rooted in Western opinion. The EU shouldn't be guided by such opinion, or it will get lost.

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