[The European Conservative] Europe's China Dilemma
Last week, von der Leyen said of China: “The story of our relationship is not yet written, and it need not be defensive.” Her visit to China begins today.
Ever since beefing up its foreign policy prerogatives with the 2009 Lisbon Treaty, the EU has accustomed the China hawks among its critics to regular bursts of dismay laced with disbelief. Among this group, both euro-Atlanticists and euro-Gaullists — factions respectively concerned with deeper transatlantic cooperation and independence from NATO — have decried the EU’s tendency to subordinate human rights and geostrategic concerns to the interests of European companies (particularly German ones) doing business in China. Yet as it deals with the country’s aggressive posturing in the context of Russia’s ongoing war on Ukraine, fairness demands that both sides cut the bloc some slack. Caught between the imperative of not pushing Xi Jinping into the hands of a desperate Vladimir Putin and that of responding to his regime’s economic abuse and political browbeating, Brussels has no good options on the cards. It must choose between bad and worse.
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