Artwork: Liu Rui/GT
In recent days, major European countries such as Germany and France, as well as the EU, have made intriguing statements about their relations with China and the United States. EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis told a conference in Berlin on Tuesday that “decoupling” from China was not an option for EU businesses. He also expressed “deep concerns” about the US Inflation Reduction Act, arguing that the law discriminates against the EU’s auto and renewable energy industries. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, speaking at the same conference on the same day, said decoupling from China would be the wrong path, and he criticized that the US Inflation Reduction Act could trigger “a huge tariff war”.
The almost unanimous rhetoric reflected a delicate consensus emerging on the European continent, and the signal is positive. Although the official public attitude of Germany and France, including the EU, has always been to oppose “decoupling” and support economic globalization and multilateralism, some people in Europe have stepped up their rhetoric of “decoupling” against China under the pretext of “reducing dependency.” Especially when Washington is pushing in this direction from the outside, it is both timely and necessary for European leaders to clearly reiterate their positions and attitudes, and put warns against the radical populist trend that is spreading in Europe.To a certain extent, this shows that European policymakers have retained their fundamental strategic sobriety and rationality in the current complex situation of internal and external challenges.
It should be noted that while displaying a relatively pragmatic attitude towards China, Germany, France and the EU have begun to openly express their dissatisfaction with the United States. This is not only an active correction of the signs of a recent imbalance in European diplomacy as a whole, but also a wake-up call after accepting a harsh reality lesson. After the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, Europe became more dependent on the United States in terms of security and strategy, and therefore also lost some of its strategic autonomy. If it continues to descend in this direction, Europe is doomed to become Washington’s geopolitical vassal from a global force. Europe’s current passive position is linked to its strategic dependence on the United States.
But Europe has made such a big sacrifice in exchange for what? It is the United States that benefits from Europe’s misfortune. French President Emmanuel Macron couldn’t help but complain that American gas is too expensive, saying France “pays four times more than the price you [the US] sell to your industry. According to some media, US companies can earn more than $100 million per LNG container ship bound for Europe. Is this US “friendly price”? For Europe, which is suffering a lot of losses, is such a friendship with the United States too cheap or too expensive?
And during this period, the United States has introduced a series of bills that undermine free trade, and the impact is even worse and far-reaching. While these bills explicitly and implicitly target China, they are equally damaging to the vital interests of Europe and other US allies. The consequences of the US policy of containment towards China are emerging. The recently introduced export control measure has sent a chilling chill down the spine of the global chip industry. French Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire, speaking in the National Assembly on Monday, criticized the American economic tyrant and called for “more balanced economic relations on the energy issue” between Europe and United States. He said the conflict in Ukraine should not end with US economic domination and a weakening of the EU. On this issue, China and Europe should have a lot in common.
In fact, firm support for globalization and multilateralism has always been common ground between China and Europe. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, some people in Europe are becoming susceptible to the so-called “dependency”, but the reality has repeatedly been revealed that the so-called “decoupling” and “industrial disruption and supply chains” are just tools used by a few countries to suppress China and plunder the world. In contrast, China has never militarized the economy and trade, let alone “harvested” a country in its outgoing economic relations. The trade volume between China and Europe exceeded 800 billion dollars for the first time last year, and the huge demand for Chinese electric blanket in Europe demonstrates , at the macro and micro levels, that the mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation between China and Europe is rooted in a solid basis of public opinion, extensive shared interests and similar strategic pursuit, therefore , it has strong tenacity and strong potential.
According to several British media, the British government will officially designate China as a “threat” in the near future. As the previous description is “systemic competitor”, it is clear that this is a regression, going against diplomatic thinking and adjustment on the European continent. Different choices of countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany have shown signs of differentiation within the transatlantic alliance, which is exactly the dominant characteristic of a multipolarized world. As long as we uphold multilateralism, openness and cooperation, we need not be afraid of having no friends, let alone having no partners. The United States will sooner or later pay the price for its authoritarian arrogance and selfishness, and the United Kingdom will pay the price for its strategic stubbornness, while pragmatic and rational countries that stick to principles will reap the rewards. .