Source: CGTN Published: 2020-09-17
"The EU has no interest in joining a second Cold War between the U.S. and China," Fraser Cameron, senior advisor at the European Policy Center in Brussels, told CGTN Host Tian Wei.
Travels bans between Europe and the U.S. did not stop U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visiting European capitals in July and August in what were dubbed "anti-China trips." It is in this contentious backdrop that the EU-China leaders' virtual summit convened on September 14 with some breakthroughs on common issues.
One tangible outcome of the summit was the EU-China Agreement on Geographical Indications. This will ensure that 100 EU food products' geographical indication like Prosciutto di Parma or Champagne will be protected in the Chinese market. Likewise, 100 Chinese products will have similar protection in and access to the EU.
Adam Dunnett, secretary general of the EU Chamber of Commerce in China, said this is a good start. "The signing of the agreement on geographical indicators show that the EU and China can work together," he adds.
China and the EU's history of securing trade agreements is complex. China and the EU have been trying to salvage the China-EU Comprehensive Investment Agreement.
"After seven years I am hopeful something can be agreed upon. The buzzword is reciprocity. We would hope that European companies can operate in China at the same level of openness that Chinese companies operate in Europe," said Dunnett.
Cameron said baby steps will provide the foundation for more ambitious cooperation goals for China and the EU. "There is certainly a toughening EU approach to China. That's why it's important to get further agreements on geographical indicators. If we can get results it will change opinions," he noted.
China and the EU may represent the second and third biggest trading blocs in the world, but the U.S. still plays a role.
Wang Yiwei, a senior fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China(RDCY)., said any China-EU negotiation will need to acknowledge the current occupant of the White House.
"The U.S. is the elephant in the room. The summit cannot negotiate a bilateral investment treaty because they also need to wait for the U.S. presidential election. The current White House will leap on any promise China gives to the EU," said Wang.
The unpredictability surrounding the current White House and who may sit there next January has placed a larger onus on the EU and China to lead the global world order.
"The EU wants stability and we are not getting that from the U.S. The U.S., EU and China have equilibrium as the biggest trading powers, not only bilaterally, but through the WTO. We need a proper functioning trade system. The EU and China must move forward together on this," said Cameron.
The development of science and technology coupled with the U.S. withdrawing from multilateral organizations has also shifted the role of developing international rules to China and the EU.
"The U.S. and the Western world dominated technology throughout Industrialization 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0. But with Industrialization 4.0, China and Huawei have taken a leading role in 5G. While the U.S. wants to dominate, the EU seeks to set rules without dominating," Wang added.
Cooperation between China and the EU on climate change and pandemic control will be vital for the world. In the absence of the U.S. from the rules-based international system, China and the EU may be thrust into the position of both leaders and standard-bearers for the rest of the world.
Wang Yiwei is a senior fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China(RDCY).
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