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EU should not let itself be cat's-paw of Washington's worsening paranoia: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-05-31 19:55

US and European Union flags are pictured in front of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. [Photo/Agencies]

The fourth ministerial meeting of the EU-US Trade and Technology Council was held in Lulea, Sweden, on Tuesday and Wednesday. With the presence of their respective trade, commerce and diplomatic officials, the meeting should have focused on resolving the trade and technology disputes between the two sides. But thanks to the United States' obsession with taking every opportunity to bolster its bid to contain China, the meeting was transformed into another anti-China workshop.

The TTC remains an empty shell at the trade level, having no ability to prevent or resolve even transatlantic trade issues, but the US clearly doesn't want to waste any chance the talk shop can provide to get the EU fully signed up to its anti-China stance.

Reportedly, the two sides haggled over the China-related parts in the draft of their joint communique for a long time ahead of the meeting, with some of the EU members, including France and Germany, unwilling to toe the US line.

As revealed by some media outlets in Brussels, a version drafted by the EU side apparently only had one veiled reference to Beijing.

However, later additions from the US showed that the EU's diplomatic language had been "punched up" to repeatedly refer to Beijing, and the US outlined a de facto EU-US united front against China.

Yet in the last-round negotiations between the two sides late last week, the US' additions were markedly toned down again, indicating that the EU found it difficult to assume the role assigned to it by Washington.

It remains to be seen what the final text of the joint communique will be, particularly as the US side refuses to budge on its market-law-bending green subsidies, a core issue the meeting was supposed to deal with. But the flip-flop in the drafting process demonstrates that the divergence between the two sides on China has become wider compared with that in late 2021. At that time, with the retirement of Angela Merkel as the German chancellor, Brussels and Washington vowed to "speak with one voice" on China.

There has been close communication between Beijing and Brussels, particularly with the European leaders' visits to China over the past months. Chinese diplomats have also visited various countries in Europe. At the same time, China has been making indispensable contributions to the stability of global supply chains. It has also been making efforts to broker peace in the Ukraine conflict. That served to prompt EU policymakers to think twice when Washington peddles its anti-China stance to them.

However, with Washington going to extremes in its efforts to smear, bully and coerce China, that almost all EU officials speak to the media only on the condition of anonymity about the bloc upholding strategic autonomy in its China policy means Washington has already caught Brussels in its net.

That should make clear to the EU that having the US as its ally is little different to having it as a "competitor".

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