European Union leaders said on Friday that they need a united stance on their relationship with China, recognising the dangers of economic dependence on Beijing.
Meeting at an annual summit this week, EU diplomats expressed concern over China’s partnership with Russia and its increasingly authoritarian path.
“I think with China it’s the same as with Russia. It is in their interest that we are divided. It’s in our interest that we are united,” Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas told reporters.
Finnish counterpart Sanna Marin stressed that the EU needed to avoid building future dependencies and instead promote stronger cooperation between democratic countries.
“We shouldn’t be dependent on authoritarian regimes on critical issues such as technology,” she said.
Beijing should now be thought of primarily as a competitor that is promoting “an alternative vision of the world order”, the EU’s foreign policy service said in a paper this week.
The push for fine-tuning comes as Germany’s ruling coalition considers whether to let Chinese state-owned shipping group Cosco take a stake in a Hamburg port terminal.
The response of the government, currently divided on the issue, is seen as a gauge of how far it is willing to toughen its stance towards its top trading partner.
‘No Limits’ Friendship
China premier Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “no limits” friendship between their two countries on the eve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said it was important for the EU to speak with China to make sure it was “on the right side of history” over Russia’s war against Ukraine.
“China is best dealt with when we are 27, not when we are one on one vis-à-vis China,” he said.
- Reuters, with additional editing from Alfie Habershon