This analysis by Josep Borrell, on the European strategy towards China, is published on Institut Montaigne exclusively for France. Since he took office, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy has made numerous statements on China, with an oratory talent that has sometimes led him to taking risks. One of them was his call to Europeans to follow their own impulse and not the incitements coming from the US: "my way", which the observers would soon rename the "Sinatra doctrine". Today, Mr. Borrell is taking on China again, this time taking his cue from Serge Gainsbourg: "je t'aime, moi non plus (I love you, neither do I)".
Without a doubt, this will raise more than one eyebrow in Beijing. But that's not the point. Mr. Borrell speaks of militarization, expansionism and Chinese acts of strength, the selective application of multilateralism and international law, human rights violations, and even the new diplomacy known as "wolf warriors".
In the light of these findings, Mr. Borrell once again certainly notes the technological and economic interdependence of Europe and China, and of the United States: a trade dependence that is less than what it is often made to be for the EU as a whole. He rejects a new Cold War and a division of the world into two blocs, but it is clear that much depends on China's response to European demands in the negotiations, which are expected to be revived in the coming months, on a framework agreement for investments. Sinatra doctrine or not, Europeans are "closer to Washington than to Beijing".
Francois Godement and Michel Duclos
Courtesy of the Spanish media Política Exterior, which published this article on 01/09/2020.
To avoid becoming entrenched between the US and China, the EU should deal with them in its own way: it should look at the world from its own point of view, defending its values and interests, and using the instruments of power available to it.
Everything in the relationship between the United States and China changed when, at the beginning of this year, they signed an agreement in Washington that was meant to pave the way for eventually ending the trade war that had started in 2018. That promise has remained unfulfilled, however. Today, the rivalry between the two extends to everything, involving closures of consulates and mutual recriminations, reflecting the struggle for geopolitical world supremacy between the two big superpowers, as though we were in a new Cold War.
Was it the coronavirus that led to this change? While this unexpected, exogenous factor has nothing to do with ideologies, it has certainly acted as a catalyst for exacerbating an underlying rivalry that will become the predominant geopolitical trend in the post-virus era.