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European leaders can no longer fool people by using double standard

By Chen Weihua | China Daily | Updated: 2022-05-06 07:02
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This handout photograph taken on April 25, 2022 and released by the Indian Press Information Bureau (PIB) shows India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during a meeting in New Delhi. [Photo/Agencies]

European leaders have resorted to double standard again in response to the stances taken by China and India on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

To begin with, the stances of China and India are quite similar. They have long had good relations with both Russia and Ukraine and hence refused to take sides. And both countries have called for a peaceful and negotiated settlement to the conflict as soon as possible. In addition, China has also called for respecting national sovereignty.

Like 150 other countries, China and India have refused to join the United States and the European Union in imposing sanctions against Russia.

However, when European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visited India last week, she did not publicly voice any concerns about India's stance on the Ukraine crisis. Instead, she talked how the EU and India share values and should forge closer ties.

What is even more shocking is that she used her visit to India to take a swipe at China, in an obvious attempt to drive a wedge between the world's two most populous countries, whose relations have already suffered a blow due to the border dispute.

Speaking at the Raisina Dialogue in India, von der Leyen said that Russia and China have forged a seemingly unrestrained pact, claiming that their friendship has "no limit". "What can we expect from the new 'international relations' that both have called for?".

She started her speech by saying that "we will continue to encourage Beijing to play its part in a peaceful and thriving Indo-Pacific region". Was that an affirmation of China's role in the peaceful and thriving region in the past? Or was she suggesting China is no longer interested in a peaceful and thriving Asia-Pacific region, which, in fact, is wrong, because it's more important to China than any European country or the US?

China is definitely not as crazy as von der Leyen's deranged thinking seems to suggest.

The same is true for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who played down the differences between the United Kingdom and India on the Russia-Ukraine conflict during his visit to India late last month, and instead announced£1 billion ($1.25 billion) worth of commercial deals between the two countries.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who travelled to India in late March, did not even mention India in her speech at the Mansion House in London on April 28. Instead, she pointed the finger at China, saying that "countries must play by the rules. And that includes China", without specifying when and where China has not played by the rules.

"They will not continue to rise if they do not play by the rules. China needs trade with the G7. We represent around half of the global economy. And we have choices," she said, as if China's rise over the past four decades is a result of the mercy of greedy Western governments and capitalists. She forgot that China has been contributing to 30 percent of global growth for many years. She also forgot that it's no longer the years when Britain used cannon diplomacy to force opium upon the hapless Chinese people to subjugate China and make as much profit as possible.

In terms of not playing by the rules, there is no comparison to the UK's outright refusal to comply with the decision of the United Nations special maritime court last year that the UK has no sovereignty over the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean, should end its "unlawful occupation" of the islands and give them back to Mauritius.

There is also no comparison between China and the G7 countries, for the latter were perpetrators of "war crimes" during the US-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the bombing and regime change in Libya, to name just a few.

China bashing is a favorite game of some European politicians. But they can't fool people any longer by resorting to double standard and hypocrisy.

Chen Weihua

The author is chief of China Daily EU Bureau based in Brussels.


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