There are increasing indications of a geopolitical confrontation between the West and China, as the Americans and Europeans raise warning fingers against the Chinese because of their human rights violations in Xinjiang Province, the siege of democracy in Hong Kong, ensuring peace in the Taiwan Strait, etc. In return, the Chinese are demanding that the West take care of their own affairs and stop practicing political hypocrisy.
In an analysis published by Bloomberg News, German economic analyst Andreas Klotte says that this confrontation is going one by one. When Chinese diplomats feel offended, they act like “wolf warriors”, who believe that their president, Xi Jinping, wants them to be so. The term “wolves warriors” is taken from two Chinese action films about a group of Chinese people confronting evil people. The bottom line is that China wants to send a message to the West, saying: You can’t mess with us anymore.
Evidence of this is the set of mutual sanctions between the European Union and China, this month. At first, the European Union announced travel bans and other restrictions on four individuals and a Chinese institution. The Americans, the Canadians, and the British have imposed similar measures on the Chinese side.
In the opening match to the West, the European Union targeted four Chinese, and one entity, with travel bans and other restrictions. The Americans, Canadians, and the British imposed similar measures. Without shaking them, the Chinese responded with stronger sanctions against the West, targeting many research centers, academics and even members of the European Parliament.
Clute believes that the Chinese aim in this conflict to show their permanent readiness to escalate, even faster and more fiercely than in the West. In contrast, Americans and Europeans know that sanctions are nothing more than a token gesture, but they believe they are better than no gesture at all.
However, there is another important paper that the European Union could file against China, which is the comprehensive investment agreement between the two sides. This agreement was reached last December. The European Parliament has not ratified it yet, while China has just imposed sanctions on its members, so the European Parliament can take this agreement hostage, and it does not ratify it in response to the Chinese position.
Klotte, the former editor-in-chief of the German newspaper Handelsblatt, says that he has always been against the comprehensive investment agreement between China and the European Union, and that he felt that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had thrown her weight behind the agreement after years of stalled negotiations, was in fact ignoring Joe Biden, while he was He is preparing for the presidency of the United States, and seeks to renew alliances of the West, not the least of which is to take a unified stand against China. So Biden did not feel comfortable with the Europeans’ decision to proceed with the signing of a major agreement with China, instead of waiting for him to take power to revive Western alliances in general, and to confront the growing Chinese threat in particular.
Certification is on a commercial basis
But is the comprehensive investment agreement worth ratifying on a purely commercial basis? It is difficult to say this, according to the German analyst, who says that the agreement aims to create a level playing field between Chinese and European companies, which deal with each other. China has already conceded more than the European Union, because Europe’s economy was already fully open to Chinese companies, while Beijing was blatantly obstructing Western firms in China.
The agreement addresses some of these problems. In many sectors, the agreement prohibits requiring Western companies in China to enter into joint ventures with local companies to operate in China, arrangements that the Chinese often used to obtain technologies and trade secrets from European companies. Beijing will also cancel the maximum limits imposed on the production of foreign manufacturers of electric cars and some other goods. On the other hand, Chinese pledges have been more ambiguous in other controversial areas, especially with regard to the massive support it provides to Chinese giants.
The weakest part
However, the weakest part of the agreement is a vague commitment by China to move – perhaps one day – toward ratification of ILO conventions that prohibit forced labor. The question: Why not ratify this convention? The issue here is Xinjiang, where Beijing brutally persecutes a large number of Uighurs, most of them Muslims. The Chinese dodging on this point was a deal breaker, for many members of the European Parliament even before the recent Chinese sanctions against them.
As always, the problem with the European Union is that member states have divergent interests. Germany, in particular, is very interested in its trade and economic ties with China, which has become Germany’s largest trading partner over the past five years, outperforming the United States, although the latter is still the largest importer of German products.
Merkel says she wants to avoid choosing between the United States and China, lest the world return to the rigid blocs that existed during the Cold War. In this regard, its goals are in line with those of President Xi Jinping, who aims to prevent the United States and the European Union from joining forces against China. So he made a few concessions, to obtain an investment agreement that he sees as a gateway to other agreements with the European Union. This also means that China will lose more than the European Union if the agreement fails, which is a card that Europe can use with Beijing.
Clute, a writer for the British Economist magazine, believes in the conclusion of his analysis that Germany and the rest of Europe must realize that the conflict between Western values of the rule of law and open society, despite their idealism in practice, and the Chinese model of outright tyranny, and therefore Europe cannot stand on neutrality.
Merkel says she wants to avoid choosing between the United States and China, lest the world return to the rigid blocs that existed during the Cold War. In this regard, its goals are in line with those of President Xi Jinping, who aims to prevent the United States and the European Union from joining forces against China.
In the opening match to the West, the European Union targeted four Chinese, one entity, with travel bans and other restrictions. The Americans, Canadians, and the British imposed similar measures. Without shaking them, the Chinese responded with stronger sanctions against the West, targeting many think tanks, academics, and even members of the European Parliament.
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