Dialogue of the deaf between the European Union and China

They wanted to make sure that China would not help Russia and allow it to circumvent the heavy sanctions against it. The leaders of the European institutions met for a virtual summit with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, then President Xi Jinping, on Friday 1is April, have you obtained the slightest guarantee from your interlocutors? The few odd questions that the journalists were able to ask them at the end of this discussion were enough to indicate that the answer was negative.

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Charles Michel, President of the European Council, and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the Commission, gave evasive answers, in the absence of a clear commitment from leaders in Beijing. “The Prime Minister and the President reiterated their willingness to commit to peace and security, indicated the President of the Council. We hope that our arguments have been heard and that China takes into account the issue of its image and the importance of its relations with Europe. »

No tangible proof

In Brussels, the meeting ended with a brief press release from the European leaders alone. They stressed China’s particular responsibility, “world player” a member of the UN Security Council and a power that maintains close relations with Moscow. They expressed their “surveillance” Regarding the financial, military or hydrocarbon purchase aid that Beijing could bring to Russia, but at this time, its entourage claims to have no tangible evidence in this regard.

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In order to convince his interlocutors that it was in their interest to preserve a peaceful world and balanced relations with the EU, other arguments were needed. From an economic point of view, a reminder: China exports some 462 billion goods to Europe annually, that is, around 15% of the total amount of its exports, while only 2.4% goes to Russia. Clearly, proof of effective support for Moscow could come at a cost to the Chinese economy. And, adds a diplomat from Brussels, by President Xi, who must be re-elected in October.

On Wednesday, Sergei Lavrov, head of Russian diplomacy, had instead obtained in Beijing the affirmation of a “limitless” friendship between the two countries.

this 23me The EU-China summit, convened before the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, obviously did not move any lines: the relationship between Europe and its “systemic rival and strategic competitor” -the formula dates from 2019- is just a bit more complicated since the outbreak of the war. Brussels and Beijing can agree, according to Michel, that the Ukrainian conflict is “a threat to security and the world economy” but he received no real response to his invitation to China to involve it in finding a solution. On Wednesday, Sergei Lavrov, head of Russian diplomacy, had instead obtained, in Beijing, the affirmation of a friendship ” Unlimited ” between the two countries.

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