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Kowtowing to Washington to target China betrays EU interests

By Chen Weihua | China Daily | Updated: 2023-02-03 08:01
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The European Union flags in front of EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. [Photo/Xinhua]

European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton's speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank in Washington, on Jan 27 was nothing but racist — precisely targeted against China.

Breton said the European Union and the United States need to develop strong common ground on technology security and should not "allow China to access the most advanced technologies", citing areas such as semiconductors, quantum computing, cloud and artificial intelligence.

Breton's words reflect a deep-rooted colonial mindset that countries like China can only be allowed to make low-end goods, such as clothing, shoes and toys, which actually was the case during the early years of China's reform and opening-up.

However, people used to exploiting cheap labor and lax environmental standards in China cannot accept the fact that China has caught up with the US and the EU in some advanced technologies after having invested for years in education, and research and development in science and technology in a bid to transition to a more sustainable and high-quality growth model.

Breton pledged his loyalty to the United States by referring to his years of experience in the US and saying that there is "a very strong alignment on this (China) agenda between EU and the US". By saying this, he has already betrayed the interests of EU companies such as Dutch chip equipment maker ASML which was coerced by the US to impose strict restrictions on exports to China, one of its largest customers.

Instead of protesting against the US' bullying of EU companies and violation of EU sovereignty, Breton said the US will always find Europe by its side when it comes to ensuring common security in technology.

Such kowtowing is nothing new as the US has a huge clout in EU, an outsized US influence that few EU politicians dare to mention.

Many European states have ignored their own experts' assessment over the past three years by blindly following US edicts to ban Huawei from their 5G networks.

Ten days ago, European Space Agency Director General Josef Aschbacher said that ESA no longer has the budgetary capacity or the political understanding to send its astronauts to China's space station, Tiangong.

This is regardless of the fact that ESA astronauts Samantha Cristoforetti and Matthias Mauer have been preparing for this for years, including undergoing joint sea survival training with their Chinese counterparts and learning the Chinese language.

Samantha Cristoforetti, an Italian, became an online sensation in China after she tweeted a poem by 4th century Chinese calligrapher Wang Xizhi while she was aboard the International Space Station flying over China.

Even at the height of the Cold War, the US and the Soviet Union cooperated in space, so it's shameful of the ESA to halt this cooperation with China on the pretext of geopolitical concerns.

Space exploration is for the benefit of humankind and China has repeatedly said that it welcomes international partners, especially developing nations, to participate in its space exploration programs unlike the notorious 2011 US Wolf Amendment which forbids US space cooperation with China.

China has long regarded the EU as a cooperation partner. EU businesses have made huge investments in China and China and the EU are each other's top trade partners. Besides, people-to-people exchanges have grown rapidly, which is reflected in the numbers of Chinese students studying in and Chinese tourists visiting Europe.

Breton's remarks are not just racist. They also show he embraces Washington's new Cold War mentality which seeks to divide the world on political, social, religious and science-technology lines. It is a world in which everyone will be worse off. Breton, a 68-year-old Frenchman, is old enough to remember what the last Cold War meant for people in Europe.

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

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