Foreign Affairs
China-EU Collaboration: Enhancing Mutual Trust and Development

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has welcomed EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell’s visit to China, stating that it is conducive to the healthy and stable development of China-EU relations. The Chinese Foreign Ministry believes that China is willing to work with the EU to strengthen strategic communication, coordination, and cooperation, enhance mutual trust, and handle differences appropriately.

Borrell and Chinese officials will take place in a pragmatic and frank manner, covering cooperation prospects and potential “de-risking” that could result in trouble to bilateral ties. Despite their differences, the mutual needs of the two sides over a wide range of interests and cooperation will help maintain the stable development of China-EU relations.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry announced that the 12th round of the China-EU High-level Strategic Dialogue will be held from October 12 to 14, contributing to the sound and steady growth of China-EU relations, laying the ground for future high-level interaction, and invigorating joint responses to global challenges and efforts for global peace and stability.

China and Europe share significant interests in peace, stability, development, and human progress. China is ready to work with the EU to enhance strategic communication, policy coordination, and mutual trust. The visit, which has been postponed twice, comes at a critical time as the EU seeks to reduce reliance on China over “de-risking” concerns while maintaining ties with the world’s second-largest economy. The China-EU summit is expected to commence, despite disagreements over Brussels’ anti-subsidy probes targeting Chinese steel and electric vehicle manufacturers.

China will present its views on the EU’s recent actions, correct the EU’s perception of China, and avoid creating more trouble with the EU’s unilaterally proposed concepts and policies. The EU has already imposed punitive tariffs on 20 Chinese steel and stainless steel items and set import quotas. Wang Guoqing, research director at Beijing Lange Steel Information Research Center, said that the tariff measures against Chinese-made steel are rising protectionist moves to protect local industry, which is likely to trigger countermeasures from China.

Borrell comes to China with questions, expectations, and demands, possibly also wanting to sound out the Chinese government’s perception of Europe. Borrell has criticized China over human rights issues and its neutral stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. However, in an August phone call with China’s top diplomat Wang Yi, Borrell expressed his desire to strengthen EU-China relations.

Europe is facing economic challenges, inflation, social problems, populism, and trade protectionism. To solve these problems, Borrell must avoid empty ideology and rhetoric and focus on boosting Europe’s business and revitalizing manufacturing. Analysts believe that the two sides agree on one point: the hope that China and Europe will move toward stability again. The resumption of existing communication mechanisms, such as the China-EU High-level Strategic Dialogue, is aimed at achieving this goal. Adjusting the EU’s China policy will bring more variables and risks, but cooperation can occur in some new areas as long as China and Europe still need each other.

The strategic dialogue will address the Russia-Ukraine and Palestinian-Israeli conflicts, with China and the EU expressing differences. Cooperation may occur in some sub-fields, as China recognizes Europe’s strategic space is limited to the US’ path and will negotiate for mutually beneficial results.

On September 25, Chinese and EU officials held a face-to-face high-level economic and trade dialogue in Beijing for the first time since the pandemic, with new agreements reached in various areas. Borrell’s colleague, EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson, is also visiting China for the EU-China energy dialogue, already in its 11th edition.

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