The visits to China by the foreign ministers of Ireland, Serbia, Poland and Hungary from Saturday to Monday, at the invitation of Beijing, convey a clear message to the world that China and Europe do not want their relations to go into free fall.
Coming shortly after the European Union suspended the ratification process for the China-EU Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, which was concluded at the end of last year after more than seven years of difficult negotiations, and Lithuania’s withdrawal from the 17+1 cooperation mechanism between China and 17 Central and Eastern European countries, the visits can help clear the air that has been polluted by the mistruths being propagated by US-backed anti-China elements.
Both incidents stem from misplaced concerns over so-called human rights issues in Xinjiang that have been fabricated with funding from the United States. The visits provide the opportunity for Beijing to expound on its practices in Xinjiang. These have secured long-term stability and development for the region which had long suffered at the hands of secessionists, extremists and terrorists, something that the EU too has not been immune to.
More broadly, the visits provide a platform for dialogue on the common interests China and the European countries have in a variety of areas, and an opportunity to shore up mutual trust between them which is being damaged by Washington’s bid to use Xinjiang as a wedge between China and Europe.
Closing ranks against China, as the US is urging, will undoubtedly seriously harm the interests of the EU. The performance of the previous Donald Trump administration should have made it clear to the members of the bloc that they have nothing to lose in pursuing diplomatic independence but the shackles of so-called common values with which the US is seeking to bind them.
That China overtook the US as the EU’s largest trade partner last year and the assistance it has offered EU countries in their fights against the novel coronavirus should have brought home to the bloc which country is a reliable partner.
A united EU is in the interests of all parties, and China’s relations with the various EU members is not a threat to the bloc’s integration, rather it contributes to strengthening its cohesion.
The EU members should recognize that China and the EU are partners, not rivals. China is not a negator of the EU’s values, rather it wants to work with the EU to promote democracy in international relations and realize a multipolar world.