Europe’s rage against China comes from its post-Soviet countries

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The summit of the leaders of the G7 rich democracies, which took place over the weekend in Japan, started a new phase of the struggle with China.. The strongly worded G-7 communique called on Beijing to do more to stop Russia’s incursion into Ukraine, condemned its alleged “malign” trade practices and pledged to “encourage economic coercion resilience,” meaning to insulate their economies from too much impact from China’s rise. market and export industry. However, the main communiqué asserted that the bloc countries are “ready to build constructive and stable relations with China”. But Beijing’s response made clear China’s dim view of the approach taken by the United States and some of its closest allies.

China summoned Japan’s ambassador to Beijing on Monday for what a Chinese diplomat described as the G-7’s “bloc confrontation and Cold War mentality.” A statement from China’s foreign ministry over the weekend criticized the G-7 terrorist attack. “The era when a few developed countries in the West deliberately interfered in the internal affairs of other countries and manipulated global affairs is gone forever,” the document said.

However, little has been said about China by G-7 leaders in Japan should come as a surprise. The summit offered the latest evidence of a tougher Western view of China. It followed European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s statements in March about the need to “de-risk” if not “disconnect” her continent’s economies from China, protect supply chains, digital networks and limit transfers of sensitive people. technology to Chinese companies. Last month, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan announced the need for export controls on any goods and technology that “could tilt the military balance” in China’s favor.

“All the G7 countries do not have a tough approach to China, but they can agree on where to protect themselves from China and the newest element. [to that debate] this is how they should respond to economic coercion,” Ryo Sahashi, an associate professor of international politics at the University of Tokyo, told the Financial Times.

Leaving the G-7, non-Western powers seek peace in Ukraine

The shift in Europe has been palpable. While trade between the European Union and China is steady, policymakers in many capitals on the continent share the United States’ skepticism and growing fears about China’s influence, the reach of Chinese technology companies and Beijing’s ambitious global infrastructure projects. Italy appears set to withdraw from China’s Belt and Road Initiative, becoming the first G-7 country to sign up in 2019.

“We are no longer this naive continent that thinks: “Wow, great Chinese market, look at these opportunities,” Philippe Le Cour, a French analyst at the Asia Society Policy Institute, told my colleagues. “I think everybody got it.”

“Hopes that China will help boost Europe’s economies have been overshadowed by concerns about competition, influence and influence,” my colleagues wrote on Monday. “Beijing’s authoritarian turn under President Xi Jinping, its bellicose autocrat Taiwan and its failure to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have raised alarm bells. European policymakers are wary of seeing how dependence on Russian energy has limited their leverage as President Vladimir Putin’s tanks roll into Kiev.”

In a statement after the meeting, the G-7 cited an episode of Chinese “coercion,” with China suspending most of its imports from Lithuania in 2021 after the small Baltic state allowed self-ruled Taiwan to open a representative office in Vilnius. The name “Taiwan”. For Beijing, such an appointment crosses the red line. other countries, including the United States, host Taiwanese offices under the name “Taipei”, which is more acceptable to China.

But Lithuania decided not to back down in its standoff with China, and two years later, it seems vindicated in its approach.. The Taiwan office remains, its name unchanged, but trade with China has been restored, although ambassadors have not returned to either country. “We have been cut off by China,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis recently told the Wall Street Journal, “but we have shown that it is possible to withstand it and not lower our threshold when it comes to values.”

Landsbergis is one of Europe’s most outspoken senior diplomats on China, and recently blasted Beijing on social media after a Chinese diplomat appeared on French television to question the sovereignty of post-Soviet countries such as Lithuania. He cited the remarks as evidence of why the Baltic states do not trust China to “make peace in Ukraine.” long tweet thread After French President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial visit to China, which critics argued was too conciliatory to Beijing. “We chose not to see the danger of Russian aggression, and now we choose not to see the danger of Chinese aggression,” Landsbergis wrote days after Macron’s visit. “We are on the verge of repeating the same mistake.”

Like other officials from Central and Eastern European countries, Landsbergis pointed to his country’s experience emerging from the shadow of the Soviet Union as a reason to be tougher on Moscow and Beijing. “Maybe I’m flattering my country, but I tend to believe that we feel the wind of geopolitical upheaval better than others,” Landsbergis told the Wall Street Journal. “Maybe it’s because we were born from it. And it’s still alive, very alive.”

Lithuania is not alone in openly embracing Taiwan. In March, the speaker of the lower house of the Czech parliament led a delegation of 150 people to the island country. The two countries agreed to a series of deals that angered China, including arms transfers and agreements to cooperate on drone research and deepen ties between national security think tanks.

In an interview with The Washington Post earlier this month, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky said his government was not interested in “provoking” China or crossing “red lines” but welcomed “strong relations” between Taiwan and the Czech Republic. He described Beijing’s signature attempt to drive a wedge in Europe with an investment initiative involving the formerly mostly Eastern European bloc of 17 countries (now just 14) as “nothing that has any relevance now.”

Lipavski was convinced that the 27 member states of the European Union are still struggling to find a consensus on China. “The fact is that European countries do not have a strong common position that we can use as a tool in dealing with China,” he told me. “But we have a common understanding that China presents opportunities and China presents threats. And regarding the latter, we have a common understanding that we should be aware of it and work on possible measures [in response]”.

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