In his virtual address to the Munich Security Conference in February, United States President Joe Biden declared: “America is back. The transatlantic alliance is back.” Which, after four years in which his predecessor tested the bonds of that fraternity, was welcomed by the US’ European partners as a sign that the US had learned some lessons from the self-inflicted hurts of the bid to make “America great again”.
But the swashbuckling feel-good of “America is back” has never been anything more than a snappy sound bite. Its implication that US foreign policy under the previous administration of Donald Trump was an unfortunate blip in its otherwise constant and principled practicing of multilateralism was exposed as the claptrap it is with the never-mind-the-women-and-children, America–first scramble to get out of Afghanistan.
It has transpired that what is back is not a less self-regarding US, but just a rejigged version of the previous administration’s policy to contain China. Instead of trying to railroad the European Union into following the US’ lead as his predecessor did, Biden is trying to cajole the EU into forming a “value alliance” to uphold the US-defined “rules-based international order”. What the Biden administration is seeking from the EU is a loyal follower to isolate China, rather than an equal partner in joint endeavors to build a better world.
Since the EU is keen to maintain its autonomy and act as an independent and responsible power in world affairs, such efforts have been in vain.
In his telephone talk with European Council President Charles Michel on Friday, President Xi Jinping conveyed Beijing’s expectations that the EU will continue to maintain its strategic autonomy and uphold multilateralism, and he called on the EU to strengthen dialogue and cooperation with China and deepen strategic communication to broaden the areas of pragmatic cooperation, which is in line with both sides’ interests and the advancing of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Rather than originating from institutional, cultural and political differences, which have never affected their pragmatic cooperation in various fields, the so-called tensions between the EU and China are being hyped up by those seeking to sacrifice the EU’s interests for their anti-China goals.
The hindrances some are trying to create to block the EU’s ratification of its hard-earned investment treaty with China, which benefits no parties except those in Washington who are trying to drive a wedge between the EU and China, demonstrates to some extent the costs the bloc will incur should it relinquish its autonomy by siding with the US.
To prevent the world being disastrously divided into two camps, when it is imperative that countries pull together to address the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, it is of the upmost importance that China-EU ties are kept on the right course. Editorial, China Daily