China Daily

EU should take a step back so it can see that it is barking up wrong tree

In yet another blow to the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership, the 27-member bloc imposed sanctions on 19 Chinese companies on Monday, alleging that they have supplied components and equipment to Russia’s military industry.

A list published in the European Union’s Official Journal includes several Chinese companies located in Hong Kong as well as two global satellite giants, which are now subject to strict restrictions over sales of “dual-use goods and technology” that the European Union claims could be used for the “enhancement of Russia’s defense and security sector”.

The unilateral move the EU has made targeting Chinese companies, which has no evidence to justify it and has no legal basis in international law, undermines the trust that has been the foundation for ties, and creates more uncertainties for the already fragile bilateral relations.

The mutually beneficial China-EU trade relationship is experiencing a difficult time as politicians in Brussels are turning to protectionism to safeguard European industries, with the bloc deciding recently to impose extra duties of up to 38.1 percent on imported Chinese electric cars from July on the grounds that they have received excessive and unfair government subsidies.

By pushing ahead with more punitive measures against Chinese enterprises rather than seeking constructive dialogue to properly handle their differences, the EU has shown it is intent on pursuing short-term political gains in disregard of long-term and stable relations with China.

That Head Aerospace Technology, one of the 19 Chinese companies hit by the latest EU sanctions, was already placed on a United States sanctions list in 2023 for allegedly selling satellite images to Russia, reflects the readiness of the EU to toe Washington’s anti-China line in cracking down on Chinese high-tech companies using their unsubstantiated links to the Russian military as an excuse.

China, which is not a direct party to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, has actively worked to promote talks for a political settlement. The Chinese government has always strictly monitored the exports of dual-use articles in accordance with the laws and regulations, and has never fanned the flames of the hostilities or sought selfish gains in the ongoing conflict.

Thus the EU is barking up the wrong tree by trying to smear the normal exchanges and cooperation between Chinese and Russian businesses and pointing an accusing finger at China for allegedly supporting Russia’s military-industrial complex.

China and the EU, as two major forces advancing multipolarity and two major markets in support of globalization, are important trading partners to each other. Over the past two decades, the two sides have developed broad-based and all-dimensional cooperation, with two-way trade having grown by six times and two-way investment more than fivefold. Their daily trade volume is about 2.3 billion euros ($2.46 billion) on average, delivering tangible benefits to people on both sides.

As Ursula von der Leyen, who is poised for a second term as president of the European Commission, has previously said, the China-EU relationship “is far too important to be put at risk by failing to clearly set the terms of a healthy engagement”.

Hopefully, Brussels will be rational, exercise strategic autonomy and work with China to manage their relationship, which has a direct bearing not only on the interests of the people on both sides, but also concerns global prosperity and security.

The EU should not let its concerns about Russia cloud its judgment or lead to paranoia. It should give full play to the role of dialogue to resolve any issues it may have with China instead of adopting the US’ discriminatory approach, which after all is intended to diminish China to the detriment of all.

Editorial, China Daily

Categories China Daily Opinion