EU and China to do more in common if the global scene gets worse

20th EU-China Summit in Beijing, 16/7/2018. Signing the Memorandum of Understanding on China-EU Circular Economy Cooperation. Jyrki Katainen EU Commission Vice-President (seated on the left) signs the Memorandum on behalf of the Union. The signing is witnessed by (standing from left to right) Donald Tusk, European Council President, Li Keqiang, PRC Premier and Jean-Claude Juncker, Commission President. Location: China,Beijing. © European Union, 2018 / Photo: Aaron Berkovich.

At a time of global trade, and not only, disorder, caused mainly by the US President of ‘America first’ Donald Trump, on 16 July in Beijing Europe and China held their 20th Summit. Both are targets of American trade aggression, but it seems the European Union is not yet ready to decisively join forces with China and loudly condemn the US, with a meaningful and strong relevant statement. Under this light, the question is: was the Beijing Summit of two global trade superpowers successful?

At this point, it must be mentioned that the European Union was represented by EU Council President Donald Tusk, the President of the Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and a number of pertinent Commissioners. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was the host of the summit. The European leaders also had talks with the Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Was the Summit successful?

The answer to the above question – whether the Summit was successful – should of course be based on what was expected from it, in comparison to the actual results. A good approach to expectations could be the article written by the head of the Chinese Mission to EU, Ambassador Zhang Ming and published by this newspaper on 15 July, one day ahead of the Beijing Summit. The good ambassador included in one short sentence, what could be expected from it. He wrote, “China and the EU will consolidate consensus and trust, enhance cooperation, and send a joint message of defending multilateralism, free trade and investment facilitation”.

Now, one meticulous reader should compare that with the results. According to a Commission Press release “The Joint Summit Statement agreed by the European Union and China illustrates the breadth and depth of the EU-China relationship…”. Of course, this is the usual diplomatic phraseology, expressing good intentions but not containing much substance. The interesting part, though, is the one which speaks about concrete issues.

The Commission statement

The Commission Statement continues “…and the positive impact that such a partnership can have, in particular when it comes to addressing global and regional challenges such as climate change, common security threats, the promotion of multilateralism, and the promotion of open and fair trade…..”. To better clarify that, the “EU and Chinese leaders expressed their strong commitment to the rules-based trading system with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) at its core”. No doubt then that both sides clearly stand by what now counts in the disturbed global scene, order.

What about investments? On this issue it was the President of the Commission himself who clarified the state of affairs. Jean-Claude Juncker said “This is why it is so important that today we have made progress on the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment through a first exchange of offers on market access, and towards an agreement on Geographical Indications. That shows we want to create more opportunities for people in China and in Europe.” In short, EU and China have noticeably advanced their own relations, in order to give an example of what goodwill can bring to the world, and make it a less dangerous place.

Yes, it was successful

Let’s check in detail then whether the EU-China Summit was successful, according to the conditions set by the head of the Chinese mission to the EU. He set them as follows: “consolidate consensus and trust, enhance cooperation, and send a joint message of defending multilateralism, free trade and investment facilitation”. Up to now, we have proved that all those conditions have been more than fulfilled by the above excerpts of the relevant EU Press release. As for the crucial theme of investment facilitation, Juncker as quoted above spoke not only about an agreement but of a Comprehensive one, containing a ‘first exchange of offers on market access’, including the – hot for the Europeans – issue of the protection of Geographical Indications.

From the Chinese side there were also massive steps towards a closer and more balanced relationship between the two sides. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, the host of the Summit, in a cordial statement said he ‘wants a more balanced trade with the EU’. This is a direct reference to the large trade surplus China runs with the EU, and Keqiang wishes to see it reduced. This is a genuine gesture of goodwill. However, very important issues were also discussed in the sidelines of the official meetings. So, there were also difficult moments too.

A difficult moment

According to a Reuters report, Chinese representatives told their European counterparts that China wants to cooperate more closely with the EU and their relationship to become “a standard of stability in the face of unilateralism and protectionism”. The European response to that was rather lukewarm.

Yes, together with China they support multilateralism and free trade, but to say China is a ‘standard of stability’ and this in clear distinction and against the US was too much for them. So, the EU didn’t go as far as undersigning a strong joint statement with China, even indirectly having Washington as a target. Neither did the EU elevate China on an equal footing with Europe as ‘a standard of stability in the face of unilateralism and protectionism’.

The EU asks for more openness

Instead, the Chinese representatives heard Juncker saying that “China could open up her economy”. Obviously, he meant this has yet to happen and he wanted Beijing to do a lot more on that front. By the same token, Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, offered a much wider suggestion about combating unilateralism and protectionism but with less hard substance in it.

He said “It is a common duty of Europe and China, America and Russia, not to destroy this (global) order but to improve it. Not to start trade wars, which turned into hot conflicts so often in our history, but to bravely and responsibly reform the rules-based international order”. In this way, Tusk puts together the aggressor and the victims and only barely can a meticulous observer detect an indirect charge against America. So there were moments when the Europeans kept their distances from the Chinese.

No doubt then, the 20th EU-China Summit has considerably advanced the relations between the two mega-trading partners. This was probably not everything the Chinese side wanted, but the leaders in Beijing know to make the best of what they can get. Multilateralism and the rules based international order that the two sides pledged their true allegiance on, was enough. At least it shows their common determination to jointly do more, if the global scene becomes more menacing.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Eurogroup: IMF proposes Germany disposes

What will it take for the world’s third-largest economy to empower women?

Latest tragedy in the Mediterranean claims over 100 lives – UN refugee agency

New energy security framework will help meet growing needs in East Africa, sustainably – UN economic wing

The world is too complacent about epidemics. Here’s how to change

Parental leave: why we can’t wait a century for equal rights for women

The Sichuan Province of China presents its cultural treasure to the EU

Make progress or risk redundancy, UN chief warns world disarmament body

State of the Union 2018: The Hour of European Sovereignty

What Ghana can teach us about integrating refugees

UN appeals for international support as flood waters rise in wake of second Mozambique cyclone

‘Continuing absence’ of political solution to Israel-Palestine conflict ‘undermines and compounds’ UN efforts to end wholesale crisis

These technologies are playing a major role at the Cricket World Cup

There are now four competing visions of the internet. How should they be governed?

In tech-driven 21st century, achieving global development goals requires closing digital gender divide

Working together to end the AIDS-HIV pandemic

UN food agency begins ‘last resort’ partial withdrawal of aid to opposition-held Yemeni capital

3 ways to ensure the internet’s future is creative, collaborative and fair

We can’t tell if we’re closing the digital divide without more data

Safer products: stepping up checks and inspections to protect consumers

How transparency can help the global economy to grow

Plastic is a global problem. It’s also a global opportunity

Crowdfunding: what it is and what it may become

Do we really understand the value of independent journalism?

The Sting’s Team

OECD will follow Canadian proceedings addressing allegations of political interference in foreign bribery prosecution

UN calls for funds to ease ‘deteriorating’ humanitarian situation in Gaza and West Bank

The EU Parliament and the ECB unknowingly or unwillingly fail to protect our financial assets

Young activists do the talking as UN marks World Children’s Day

IFMSA and IPSF on the Health of Migrants and Refugees

Do the EU policies on agro-food smell?

How traditional Islamic giving can play a role in the future of aid

For video game addiction, now read official ‘gaming disorder’: World Health Organization

European Court of Justice to Google: It is #righttobeforgotten but not #righttoberemembered

Young people meet in Malta to shape the future of Europe

Britain heading to national schism on exit from EU

Essential services on verge of shutdown in Gaza as emergency fuel set to run out

An American duel in Brussels: Salesforce against Microsoft over Linkedin deal

How solar is powering the Middle East towards renewables

From violence to dialogue: as land conflicts intensify, UN boosts efforts to resolve disputes through mediation

G20 LIVE: Fact Sheet from the G20 Leaders Summit and key outcomes (G20 Antalya 2015 Summary)

Trump beats Clinton but Americans will learn the hard way that the US can’t change with an election

How drones can help rural Africa take flight

It’s time for cybersecurity to go pro bono

Reducing disaster risk is a good investment, and ‘the right thing to do’, says Guterres

Commission launches debate on more efficient decision-making in EU social policy

Facility for Refugees in Turkey: €127 million to boost EU’s largest ever humanitarian programme

€200 million to promote European agri-food products in and outside the EU

Eurozone plans return to growth

THE ROAD TO GANESHA

Barriers to healthcare: are they real?

Treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons marks first anniversary, but still lacks sufficient numbers to become law

How UN cultural treasures helped set the stage for Game of Thrones

EU-Singapore free trade deal gets green light in Trade Committee

Starbucks and FIAT again under Commission’s microscope: is Europe ready to kick multinationals out of the house?

India can soar in the robot age. This is how

UN Security Council urged to act against ‘worst-case scenario’ Syria’s war-battered Idlib

Draghi’s 2018 compromise: enough money printing to revive inflation and check euro ascent

Draghi cuts the Gordian knot of the Banking Union

EU commits €9 million in humanitarian aid for the most vulnerable families in Myanmar

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s