The EU Recalibrates Its Policy on China, a ‘Systemic Rival’

The EU Recalibrates Its Policy on China, a ‘Systemic Rival’
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the Federal Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, July 9, 2018 (Photo by Wolfgang Kumm for dpa via AP Images).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China.

Just two years ago, on the heels of Donald Trump’s election, the European Union was playing up China’s potential as a partner that could help preserve the global order. But a new strategy paper from the European Commission, released on Tuesday, moves to recalibrate the EU’s approach toward China, calling it an “economic competitor” and a “systemic rival.”

The paper, which comes ahead of a planned series of high-level meetings between European and Chinese leaders, notes Beijing’s failure to open its markets, describes its treatment of European companies as unfair, and claims that its foreign investment practices undermine the rule of law and human rights. It also lays out a number of steps the EU and its member states can take to strengthen cooperation in areas of agreement with China, while working toward a “more balanced and reciprocal economic relationship.” These include pressuring Beijing to end forced technology transfers and making European procurement contracts for Chinese companies dependent on reciprocal access to China’s procurement market.

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