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EU seeks US reset to confront China threat

EU, China flags
China's top trade official warned Brussels against protectionism. Photo: Reuters

(ATF) The European Union (EU) wants to rebuild its alliance with the US after President Trump is replaced by Joe Biden to confront issues such as the “strategic challenge” posed by China, according to a draft plan that was reported by the Financial Times on Sunday November 29. 

“As open democratic societies and market economies, the EU and the US agree on the strategic challenge presented by China’s growing international assertiveness, even if we do not always agree on the best way to address this,” the draft plan reportedly says.

The plan will be submitted for endorsement by national leaders at a meeting on December 10-11, and proposes the launch of a new transatlantic agenda at an EU-US summit in the first half of 2021, the FT added.

Earlier in November, the EU imposed tariffs on up to $4 billion of US imports in retaliation for US subsidies for Boeing, but said it was hopeful of an improvement in trade ties under Biden.

EU trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis has said the European Commission, which coordinates trade policy for the 27 EU member states, had made informal contacts with the Biden team.

The transition to the Biden administration in the US will generate intense diplomatic lobbying by other nations, both in public and private, and US attitudes towards China will be closely examined for changes from the confrontational and confused policies adopted by Trump.

China’s stance towards the US will also be closely monitored.

Chinese President Xi Jinping was relatively slow to congratulate Biden on his victory in the recent US election, but sent a formal message to the US president-elect on Wednesday November 25. 

“Xi said he hopes that the two sides will uphold the spirit of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, focus on cooperation, manage differences, (and) advance the healthy and stable development of China-US ties,” according to a statement released by the Chinese embassy in Washington.

‘China does not want to replace US dominance’

Another more informal indication that China hopes to reset its own relations with the US after the departure of Trump came in an article published in the New York Times on Tuesday November 24 by Fu Ying, a former vice foreign minister of China who remains influential in Beijing.

“To refresh the relationship, each side must accurately assess the other’s intentions. China does not want to replace US dominance in the world. Nor does China need to worry about the United States changing China’s system,” she said in the article.

“Even if competition between China and the United States is unavoidable, it needs to be managed well, cooperatively. It is possible for the two countries to develop a relationship of ‘coopetition’ (cooperation and competition) by addressing each other’s concerns,” she added.

Fu Ying singled out US treatment of Huawei and TikTok as unfair, but also offered what could be interpreted as a conciliatory gesture towards the incoming Biden administration.

“In the fields of economics and technology, rules and laws must prevail. It is important that Beijing listen to and address the legitimate concerns of American companies in China, such as their calls for better intellectual property protection, cybersecurity and privacy. China is making strong efforts in all these areas by improving its laws and their enforcement,” she said.


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Jon Macaskill

Jon Macaskill has over 25 years experience covering financial markets from New York and London. He won the State Street press award for 'Best Editorial Comment' in 2016


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