China and Europe have renewed frequent interactions recently. Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on August 24 met Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó in South China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. On August 25, Wang began his trip to Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, France and Germany.
This is Wang’s first foreign visit since China effectively put the COVID-19 pandemic under control. It aims to pave the way for future interactions between Chinese and European leaders, showing that the two sides attach great importance to each other especially now with a roiling international environment.
In the face of COVID-19, cooperation and mutual assistance define mainstream China-Europe relations
However, there have been negative external disturbances to China-Europe ties. Over the past two months, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien visited several European countries.
They tried to spread an “American virus” with public relations smear campaign to damage China-Europe relations. In dialogues with European countries, they talked frequently about 5G and “the clean network,” applauding measures that are unfavourable to China and trying to bring all European countries into their anti-China camp.
Washington also exaggerated the economic and ideological disputes between China and Europe, as if following the US’ suit is Europe’s only path. Indeed, China-Europe disputes, especially economic quarrels, have increased in recent years.
Some European people have also grown more prejudiced against China since the pandemic. The US will not let go of any opportunity to drive a wedge between China and Europe, trying to turn the two sides into enemies.
A few European conservatives or Atlanticists who blindly follow the US may be successfully instigated by Washington. But in the face of the complicated international situation, mainstream European politicians will maintain their strategic focus and attach great importance to China-Europe relations.
For example, German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday said Germany and the EU wanted to continue conversations with China and set an example for multilateralism. Wang’s visit to Germany also shows that China attaches great importance to Germany’s leadership in the European Union. Germany currently holds the six-month rotating presidency of the EU Council, and China regards this period as an opportunity to consolidate and deepen ever more enlightened China-EU relations.
Beijing hopes that cooperation with Berlin can set an example for China-Europe relations and benefit the world
China and Europe also share wide and profound common interests. Facing the pandemic, the two sides have cooperated on the COVID-19 fight, international health governance, and resumption of work and production. Cooperation far exceeds competition in China-Europe relations. Their partnership benefits the world and holds the potential to further inject the world with wider prosperity and development.
In terms of economic recovery, Wang called for acceleration in free trade talks with Norway, reiterating the development opportunities that can be brought with the Belt & Road Initiative.
In the field of multilateralism, China and Europe have strengthened their consensus by supporting the World Health Organization to lead global health governance and promoting cooperation on climate change, biodiversity as well as other issues.
Thus, China and Europe should consolidate their cooperative endeavors and reject all kinds of provocations. Although China is facing very complicated international situations, it still adheres to peaceful development, opening-up and reciprocal cooperation. During a joint press conference with Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio on August 25, Wang said that starting a new cold war would reverse the course of history and make the world hostage to one country’s interests alone.
Europe also needs to prevent being caught up with an antagonistic mindset fueled from Washington. Otherwise, it may lose a bright future of deeper and wider cooperation with China. On matters of free trade, the Nord Stream-2, 5G and multilateralism, Europe is under pressure from the US. But they are very wary of the current state of affairs and can plainly see the US is disregarding its partners and allies for raw self-interest.
China and Europe have sufficient political wisdom and are equipped with a strategic focus to make correct choices that benefit both sides and all of humanity.