the twenty-third summit between the European Union and China it is not just another meeting between two of the world’s main trading blocs. War from Vladimir Putin in Ukraine will totally mark the meeting, which is being held this Friday, April 1 by videoconference in two separate sessions – first with the Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang in the morning and with the president Xi Jinping in the afternoon – although there will be neither a final joint press conference nor a common declaration. Still, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyenand that of the European Council, Charles Michaelaspire to obtain guarantees from Beijing that they will neither provide military support to Russia nor will they throw any economic lifeline that allows it to avoid European sanctions.
Despite their important commercial ties, relations between the European Union and China live in an environment twitching for months and the difficulties have been growing since the conclusion of the negotiations of the global investment agreement, at the end of 2020. “We hoped that it would allow us to move towards a more balanced relationship and productive, but over the last year there are several issues that have continued to be a source of concern: the human rightsthe sanctions to the members of the European Parliament and the diplomatic institutions, the persistent trade barriers and the measures against Lithuania”, explain European sources.
To this was added last February 4 the signing of a joint declaration between the president Xi Jinping and its Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putinwhich has raised European concern about intentions from China in the long term in relation to a rules-based order. And since last February 24 the war in Russia, which is a “threat for European security” and “a violation of the fundamental principles of the United Nations charter” and of the international order that China, as a permanent member of the UN security council, should defend.
In this context, “the two presidents will make a call President Xi Jinping to use Chinese influence to try to put finish at hostilities”, add the same sources. “We want to make sure that we cooperate to end the war,” adds a second diplomatic source involved in the talks, who recalls that China has been doing balancing and you have to decide once and for all what kind of ally from Russia I want to be. Although the sources consulted anticipate a Difficult conversation”both Von der Leyen and Michel – the head of European diplomacy will also participate in the meeting Joseph Borrell– They will take advantage of the meeting to remind Beijing that the war launched by Putin no them suits and that they need stability to continue “blooming”.
Numbers say everything. 13.7% of the trading volume China’s total is with the EU, compared to 12.5% with the United States and 2.4% with Russia. “Do you want to put at risk this strong economic position and trade relations? Do you want to put at risk the stability and prospects from increase of the world economy and those of your own country? We are already seeing the effects of the war on the economy world. The impact is not caused by sanctions, but by war. energy prices continue to rise, also from the foods and fertilizers. Do we prolong (all this) or work together to end this war? That is the essential question for the summit”, summarizes a senior official from the European institutions.
“President Xi Jinping wants to be re-elected in the October Congress with the promise from stability, increase and new opportunities for a society that has already enjoyed decades of stability with the constant promise that it will be better than the previous generation. Do you want to put all this at risk? We don’t think so and China has to realize that all this has a lot to do with our common responsibility with the global system”, adds another diplomat.
Although there is no evidence in Brussels that Beijing is supplying arms to Russia or helping it Dodge the sanctions Westerners, nor do they consider it useful to speculate on this possibility, they do believe that there is “margin” to “expose the diplomatic arguments that we do not believe it is in China’s interest to circumvent sanctions or start delivering military equipment”, they insist from the community capital. In the first place because it would also suffer a reputational damage important -there are also Chinese companies that have chosen to be present in Russia, they say- and secondly because Beijing would leave of being “neutral”. From the European Parliament, however, they recall that if Beijing supports Moscow this turn Should have “consequences”.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.