While the focus of the G-7 meeting in Hiroshima this week will be on Russia, the gathering leaders will have China on their minds. But could differences in Europe over how best to m...
While the focus of the G-7 meeting in Hiroshima this week will be on Russia, the gathering leaders will have China on their minds. But could differences in Europe over how best to manage relations with Beijing impact the group’s cohesion?
Recent weeks have demonstrated that the debate on China in Europe is defined as much by divergence as it is by alignment, for all the strong policy signals coming from Brussels.
Two factors are important in this story. First, Berlin and Paris seem to have an incomplete understanding of China’s priorities. And second, divisions within the European Union mean that the bloc can’t agree on elements of its approach.
The EU has classified China as a partner, competitor, and systemic rival since 2019. This “triptych” will remain in place even as the EU has begun to recalibrate its approach to its largest trading partner. While there is broad agreement that the latter two categorisations are now eclipsing the former, the EU will continue to place great emphasis on engagement with China.
There is also in principle support among the EU member states for a “de-risking” strategy, both in economic and strategic terms. Recent examples of such an approach include measures such as reducing its dependency on China for critical raw materials and preventing future Chinese economic coercion. Also on the table is an outbound investment screening instrument for “a small number of sensitive technologies”, similar to what the US is currently putting into place.