Source: Global Times Published: 2018-7-16
China and the EU on Monday agreed to jointly work to safeguard the rules-based international order, promote multilateralism, and support free trade, a move that experts say is not an attempt to create a bloc to oppose the US for imposing trade tariffs against China and the EU.
The agreement between China and the EU was reached during the 20th China-EU leaders' meeting in Beijing, which was co-chaired by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, European Council President Donald Tusk, and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Monday.
China and the EU, as two major forces and economies of the world, have the joint responsibility to safeguard the rules-based international order, advocate multilateralism, support free trade, and promote world peace, stability and development in the current international situation, read a press release from the meeting.
Some Western media and politicians have suggested that China is trying to build an "anti-US alliance" with the EU, but experts said while China and the EU share opposition to protectionism and unilateralism, they have not identified the US or the Trump administration as their common rival.
"China and the EU do share concerns and pressure from the US, and they have agreed to have joint efforts to balance the impact. But identifying the US as a common threat is against the principle of China-EU cooperation - not to be against a third party," Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies, China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times.
The EU and China are facing very different pressure from the US, Cui noted. "For instance, aluminum-steel tariffs will have a greater impact on the EU than on China, so if China and the EU were to form an anti-US alliance it would be very complicated to clarify their respective responsibilities and they would not likely come up with effective joint action."
The China-EU meeting was held just prior to Monday's Trump-Putin summit in Finland, leading Tusk to declare on Monday that "China, the United States and Russia had a duty not to start trade wars" and called on the three countries to reform the World Trade Organization, Reuters reported.
Who is the foe?
Wang Yiwei, director of the Institute of International Affairs at Renmin University of China in Beijing, said that "many EU members have close ties with the US in trade and security fields, so it is impossible to ask the EU to have a united opinion to oppose the US. China and the EU hold different views on the US."
The EU is exercising "wishful thinking" if it believes the US will return to "normal" after Trump leaves office, said Wang, adding that China believes Trump's unilateral and protectionist moves will have a long-term impact on US political thinking and actions.
Although China and the EU refuse to identify the US as their common rival, Trump has identified China, the EU and Russia as foes of the US. Asked during a CBS interview which country was the biggest foe of the US, Trump said that "Now you wouldn't think of the EU, but they're a foe. Russia is a foe in certain respects. China is a foe economically, certainly a foe."
Wang Yiwei is a senior fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China.