Whither EU-China relations?

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

The EU-China relationship has entered a worrying period in terms of economic and political relations, writes Stanley Crossick on Blogactiv. 

Trade is the main area of concern, with tariff barriers and Chinese interventions limiting the EU's exports to China, Crossick states. European companies doing business in China face serious problems because of the non-implementation of laws and bureaucratic hurdles, the blog says. The Europeans also voice concerns about the investment climate in industries such as finance, energy and telecommunications, the blogger adds. 

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, known as being China-friendly, recently called the EU's trade relationship with China "deeply unequal" and accused China of being "procedurally obstructive". He described "the Chinese juggernaut" as "out of control". 

Crossick refers to "the increasing concern that reciprocity is not growing between China and Europe". He demands that "our Chinese friends must be true to Confucius and act towards us as they wish us to act towards them. This means seeking to understand things from a European standpoint – understanding, not necessarily agreeing upon them". 

Politically, the author criticises China's weak human rights record – non-ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ongoing support for Myanmar – as well as the de-facto non-existence of relations with the European Parliament, without whose formal assent there can be no Partnership & Cooperation Agreement. 

"On the trade front, Beijing needs to take urgent steps to open up its services market so as to give EU companies access […] Politically, China needs to show that it will now ratify the UN covenant", Crossick says. 

Worsening EU-China relations are inevitably linked to the end of the honeymoon period in Sino-German as well as Sino-French relations, according to the blog. 

"Germany and France are key parties to the marriage between China and Europe", Crossick writes. 

The author concludes that the EU-China summit on 28 November will be critical in terms of determining which direction this relationship will take.

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