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Biden splits EU top rank over China

PoliticsWorld PoliticsBiden splits EU top rank over China
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A division is emerging over China policy at the top of the EU, amid mounting pressure from US President Joe Biden on Brussels to take a more aggressive stance towards Beijing.

Senior figures at the European Council — including President Charles Michel — are pushing for a less confrontational approach to China than the Biden administration, which is trying to pressure allies to team up to take on Beijing. The Council is the body of the European Union that represents the 27 EU member states – including governments such as those in Beijing, Berlin, Budapest and Athens. EU kingpin Germany is one Major Investors in Chinaparticularly through the car industry, and seeks to avoid auctions in commercial relationships.

This means there is concern in many member states that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is taking a more aggressive tone in line with the US. Policy.

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“There is a great risk of conflict here between the United States and China,” said a senior council official, speaking on condition of anonymity, referring to growing fears that Beijing could attack Taiwan. “Yes, we are a partner of the United States, but we are not a vassal state. We believe that we should not completely separate from China.

In particular, there is concern within the European Council joint statement Released by von der Leyen and Biden after their meeting at the White House last Friday. “We have a common interest in preventing the capital, expertise and knowledge of our companies from being diverted to promote technological developments that would enhance the military and intelligence capabilities of our strategic rivals,” both said in an apparent reference to thwarting the plan. Chinese ambitions by preventing companies from developing high-end technology in China.

The council’s argument is that the commission – whose independent-minded bureaucrats have a key role in steering the bloc’s trade policy – should consult more with national capitals before rushing to measures that anger Beijing.

“Certainly the Commission has a competence on trade,” said a senior EU official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of internal sensitivities. “But we’re talking about geopolitical strategy [EU] International status… [this]… to be done with a mandate of the European Council.”

The Commission, for its part, points out that Friday’s statement reflects G7 policy, as set out by the Japanese presidency of the group. A spokesperson also indicated that the commission chairman had previously spoken of the need to de-risk (i.e. reduce risk) rather than completely disengage from China.

These tensions between the upper echelons of the EU’s dueling powerhouses, the Council and the Commission, about the EU’s China policy also come just in time for the next EU-China summit.

The European Commission says the next China-EU summit, which had been set for June, may not take place before the next US-EU summit. But the US has indicated Biden will not attend a summit in Europe before June – a sequence of events that will delay the next EU-China summit until the second half of the year.

EU relations with China are still particularly sensitive because of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The US government is sharing intelligence with Europe that China is considering arming Russia in its war on Ukraine.

Europe’s response has been ambiguous at best, however, with many countries hesitant to break away from the profitable Chinese market.

Von der Leyen himself has established a strong professional relationship with Biden Alex Wong/Getty Images

The row at the top of the EU over the bloc’s China policy is a response to long-standing allegations leveled privately at von der Leyen, even from within the Commission, that he and his team very close to america,

His chief of staff Bjorn Seibert has served as the main conduit between Brussels and Washington over the past year, along with senior officials in the US administration such as National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and former Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economics Dalip Singh. Direct conversation. ,

Von der Leyen himself has established a strong professional relationship with Biden. Apart from meetings at the G7 and other international gatherings, she has met the US President twice in the Oval Office.

In contrast, Michelle has yet to make an official visit to the White House, but went on a controversial solo trip to China last November.

Deepening divisions at the top of the EU over how Europe should position itself amid an increasingly tense standoff between Beijing and Washington point to past heightened political moments, not least in the Iraq War, when Most of Europe – led by France – turned its back on the US-led intervention, with the most notable exception of Britain.

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel was also reluctant to put a foot forward on US policy regarding China – troubling incoming members of the Sullivan and Biden administrations during the transition period between the Trump and Biden presidencies, when they announced in December Helped steer the EU’s trade deal with China. 2020.

Jacopo Barigazzi contributed reporting.

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