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Why Europe should work with China

By François de la Chevalerie | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2016-12-16 10:36

Why Europe should work with China

In this period of ever-growing protectionism, will Europe grant Market Economy Status to China? In 2001, the signatory countries of the Doha Development Round agreed that in 2016, at the latest, China would be granted the status. To put it bluntly, that entails a lowering of tariff barriers for products coming to China. However, the European parliament has adopted a resolution against this project. Some unions and industrial lobbies have also argued it. What is at stake is the preservation of industrial sectors as well as three millions jobs in Europe, they claimed.

Are they drawing their inspiration from anxieties and misunderstanding?

In the past 16 years the pattern of trade between Europe and Chine has increased dramatically.

On the one side, it boosted the china industrial development though it has led consequently to worsening the pollution of the country.

On the other side, it helped to keep low prices in Europe. That helped to maintain the purchasing power in spite of its severe impact on factory offshoring and its collateral damage, decline in employment.

During the same period, the investment flow from Europe to China has expanded considerably. In the past decade, Chinese capital flow to Europe has increased significantly.

Since 2000, despite specific cases of litigation, the mutual benefit for each partner has been generally acknowledged.

But now, driven by a somewhat populism wave, many in EU lend their voices to an out of date protectionism. Worse, they deliberately designate China as a major factor of disturbance.

China isn’t the only player in the industrial chain. Many others countries have contributed to the weakening of the manufacturing activities in Europe. In addition, nowadays technologies and know-how are globalised moment to moment.

So how could Europe rebuild an industrial model based on multiple barriers on trade? All along history, the Great Wall of China was an illusion. The European wall looks equally as a red herring. Crack the interdependence between the countries seems as an empty promise.

Instead of walling up, it is better to work together to address the world current challenges such as the environmental crisis and the global warming issue. Considering the air pollution; the soil decontamination; the waste recycling; the water treatment; the hazardous materials removal; the energy efficiency, EU can play a major role to reshape the Chinese economy in the mutual benefit of each.

Thus, rather than refusing the Market Economy Status to China, it is urgent to overhaul the Chinese European partnership through a long-term strategy, peacefully and steadily.

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