The fierce debates on EU-China relations in the European Parliament, the Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union and the European Council, held almost at the same time, show the urgency with which the bloc is seeking to adjust its China policy.
Amid the clamor for decoupling, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell struck a more rational note in the debate at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on Tuesday.
Given the US-provoked Ukraine crisis and the United States' self-centered Inflation Reduction Act have exposed clearly the true colors of the cross-Atlantic alliance, he urged the EU to keep its China policy independent from the China containment strategies of the US.
The speech Borrell gave to EU lawmakers indicates he has studied the report of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China very carefully, and he has also reviewed and reflected on his first-hand experience in his exchanges with Chinese policymakers.
In looking at EU-China relations in an objective and comprehensive way, the EU foreign policy chief was better serving the interests of the bloc, unlike those EU politicians, who lacking first-hand experience, rely heavily on second-hand, unverified information from the US side and thus just parrot Washington's China discourse.
Saying that "differences should not and are not stopping us from engaging with each other", Borrell pointed out that while the EU's approach toward China should not be naive neither should it be alarmist. Engaging with China does not preclude competing with it and standing up for EU values as well as the bloc's strategic interests, nor does doing those preclude working with China to address common challenges and tap the potential of economic cooperation.
As he pointed out, diversifying sources of supplies, and improving internal resilience — something both the EU, China and other major economies are doing in the face of the US' attempts to reshape global supply chains — do not necessitate decoupling from China.
Rather than decoupling, Borell called for the EU to further extend the economic and political dimensions of its partnership with China. To that end, the EU should resist the US' attempts to politicize trade, business and technology, and keep the communication channels with China open.