An attendant walks past EU and China flags ahead of the EU-China High-level Economic Dialogue at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, on June 25, 2018. (Photo: Agencies)
In contrast to the United States, which has not only tried to sabotage the international efforts to resolve the Iran nuclear issue, address climate change and contain the novel coronavirus but also sought to denigrate China while doing so, the European Union has invariably made great efforts to work with China to uphold these multilateral agreements.
Although there are differences with China on some issues, the EU and its member states have made it clear they are unwilling to join the United States in a repeat of the Cold War.
This year marks the 45th anniversary of the founding of diplomatic relations between China and the European Economic Community, the predecessor to the European Union, and strong ties have developed over those years. EU leaders and European governments have repeatedly stated that China remains an important economic partner and reaffirmed their willingness to work with China on issues of common concern.
The EU is now China's largest trading partner, and China is the EU's second-largest trading partner. But beyond their burgeoning economic relations, the two sides' shared commitment to a political dialogue reflects their common recognition that together they can exert significant influence on an array of issues as they both seek to uphold multilateralism, free trade, fairer global governance and concrete actions to avert the looming existential threat of runaway climate change. The mutual trust that has developed between many European countries and China over the past four and a half decades has further deepened during the pandemic because of the assistance they extended to one another.
Thus the video meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country holds the EU presidency this year, and the EU leaders on Monday, sought to continue to steer the Sino-EU relationship clear of any submerged rocks and keep it progressing in the right direction.
Although the policies of the EU's two major trade partners — the United States and China — have become increasingly divergent over the past months, thanks to the US administration's policies aimed at containing China, the EU has enough reasons not to jump on its anti-China bandwagon.
With the EU economy having shrunk by 2.5 percent and 14 percent in the first and second quarters of the year due to the pandemic and China's economy rebounding 3.2 percent in the second quarter after contracting by 6.8 percent in the first and with it having effectively brought the virus under control in the country, China is a partner the EU cannot afford to ignore at this moment. Their economic ties offer the two sides the motivation to accelerate their bilateral investment talks, which would also help them reduce the trust deficit that has arisen over Chinese investments in Europe as a result of the smear campaign launched by the US administration.
Reviving and strengthening their cooperation will provide a tremendous boost to global supply chains and the world economy, and consolidate the confidence of the rest of the world which has seen too much disservice done to the contrary by the wayward US administration.