The challenges created by China’s expanding global influence, the implications of the pandemic for EU-China relations, and the way forward for Europe’s China policy were the main topics discussed in a virtual working breakfast on EU-China relations beyond Covid-19 on Tuesday.
The guest keynote speaker, Dr. Janka Oertel, Director of the Asia Program of the European Council on Foreign Relations, said that relations between Europe and China are undergoing a fundamental shift.
According to Dr. Oertel “this dynamic has already been underway since at least 2019, but the Covid-19 crisis has accelerated the process significantly.”
According to her, for China, Europe has become the key battleground in the strategic competition with the United States for economic and technological supremacy. Access to Europe’s market and political cooperation with the economic bloc are crucial for realizing China’s expanding global ambitions.
China’s approach to Europe has implications for internal cohesion within the EU as well as for transatlantic relations. While the EU is gradually and decisively getting tougher on trade and sharpening its defensive tools, there is less clarity when it comes to the overall political relationship with Beijing.
Beyond the trade agenda, this will also mean that a “geopolitical Commission” can no longer avoid taking a clear stance regarding the future of civil liberties in Hong Kong, Chinese human rights violations or Beijing’s assertive policies in its neighbourhood and beyond,” she said.
Diktio’s President Anna Diamantopoulou, focused on the complexity of EU-China relationship, highlighting that its future form will be having crucial implications in a wide range of policy sectors such as Europe’s industrial and internal market policy, democracy and human rights, Africa, 5G networks, global governance and institutions, global debt management and of course cooperation in dealing with Covid-19 and potential future pandemics.
The event was organised jointly with the European Council on Foreign Relations.