(© picture-alliance/dpa)

  Europe and China

  11 Debates

China is the world's largest diplomatic power, according to the Australian Lowy Institute's Global Diplomacy Index 2019. Europe is increasingly feeling Beijing's growing economic and geopolitical clout, among other things due to Beijing's Belt and Road initiative. How should the EU respond?

French President Emmanuel Macron travelled to China with a delegation of high-level managers on Monday. During his visit he wants to secure around 40 trade deals. EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan and representatives from other European governments also accompanied him. France's initiative draws praise - but also harsh criticism - from the press.

Switzerland has joined China's controversial New Silk Road infrastructure initiative. On a state visit President Ueli Maurer was welcomed by Xi Jinping in Beijing, where the two leaders signed a declaration of intent. Switzerland's decision leaves a bitter aftertaste in commentators' mouths.

Conflict-laden issues including the New Silk Road are setting the agenda at the EU-China summit today, Tuesday. Brussels wants China to commit to fair and free trade relations. But commentators point out that Europe doesn't hold much sway over its second most important trade partner anymore.

French President Emmanuel Macron invited Angela Merkel and Jean-Claude Juncker to also attend his meeting on Tuesday with Chinese President Xi Jinping. While in Paris Xi promoted Beijing's New Silk Road project. Some commentators see the meeting as a positive development for Europe. Others focus on what wasn't addressed at the meeting.

Italy wants to be the first G7 state to take part in Beijing's "New Silk Road" project. The two sides signed a corresponding memorandum of understanding on Saturday in Rome. While Germany and France criticised the move, commentators come to Italy's defence.

The US has warned Germany and other countries against tasking Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei with the construction of the 5G network in Europe. It threatened Berlin with ending its collaboration with German intelligence services and military cooperation within Nato if the country failed to heed its advice, as it believes China could misuse the sensitive infrastructure. How should Europe react?

Investor George Soros has warned of the impact advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence could have in the hands of authoritarian states. He stressed that China's leader Xi Jinping could become the most dangerous threat to democracy - particularly as he is expanding his influence through global investments. Not all commentators agree.

The EU Commission's rejection of the plans for a merger between Siemens and Alstom's train divisions has sparked a debate about EU competition laws. On this issue Brussels ignored the will of Berlin and Paris, who wanted to pave the way for a European company that could compete with the US and China in the global railway sector. Should EU states have more or less say when it comes to competition ?

The EU and China are joining forces in the trade dispute with the US. At the EU-China summit they agreed to cooperate more closely in the areas of economic affairs and environmental protection. Commentators welcome this new unity but warn that Europe must not forget the human rights abuses in China.

Sweden is caught up in a heated debate about China's influence in the country. In the western Swedish city of Lysekil Chinese investors wanted to build the biggest deep-water container port in Northern Europe, but protests brought the project to a halt. How should the country behave with regard to Beijing and major projects of this kind in general?