(© picture-alliance/dpa)

  Europe and China

  32 Debates

The EU Commission has announced plans to impose punitive tariffs on imports of Chinese electric vehicles from 1 July if no alternative agreement can be reached with Beijing. The tariffs will be as high as 38.1 percent depending on manufacturer and, according to Brussels, aims to prevent Chinese companies from flooding the EU market with heavily subsidised cheap e-cars. The EU is thus following the example of the US, which already imposes punitive tariffs of 100 percent on Chinese electric vehicles. Beijing has reacted with anger to the news.

Turkey wants to join the Brics economic community, Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said during his visit to China last week - the first by a high-ranking Turkish politician in 12 years. Fidan is now due to travel to a meeting of Brics foreign ministers in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, on Tuesday. Commentators examine what this means for relations between Ankara and Brussels.

China's head of state Xi Jinping travelled to Europe this week - making stops in Paris, Belgrade and Budapest. While at the start of his tour EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen accused him of 'flooding' Europe with subsidised goods and threatened to take 'tough measures', he received a warmer welcome in Serbia and Hungary, given that both countries are hoping to capitalise on Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative.

China celebrated the tenth anniversary of its Belt and Road Initiative trade project in Beijing on Tuesday and Wednesday. Among the guests from around 140 countries were Russian President Vladimir Putin and Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Europe's press discusses the significance of the project - and the motives of those who attended the event.

Several data indicators point to a marked slowdown in China's economic growth: according to the country's National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), industrial output rose by 3.7 percent year-on-year in July - falling far behind the growth rate for June (4.4 percent), while retail sales rose by 2.5 percent (compared to 3.1 percent in June) and investment in the real estate sector fell by 8.5 percent. Europe's press takes stock.

Negotiations are starting today, Wednesday, on a new round of sanctions against Russia that for the first time also extend to Chinese businesses set to send 'sensitive goods' to Russia. Previously the EU has always protested against such extraterritorial sanctions - such as when the US penalised foreign companies delivering sanctioned goods to Iran - arguing that this violates the states' right to self-determination.

China's growing influence is increasingly shaping the world order. Beijing's ambivalent stance vis-à-vis Russia's invasion of Ukraine poses a challenge to the EU, as do the tensions between the US and China over Taiwan. The press debates how Europe should position itself internationally.

Emmanuel Macron's statements on the China-Taiwan conflict continue to cause controversy. After his visit to Beijing with Ursula von der Leyen, Macron told the business paper Les Echos that Europe should not behave like a "follower" of the US on the issue of Taiwan. Commentators discuss Macron's calls for Europe to seek greater strategic autonomy, which he repeated in China.

French President Emmanuel Macron has travelled to China together with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, where they will meet with President Xi Jinping. In a speech prior to the meeting, Macron praised the Chinese peace initiative for Ukraine and stressed that Europe must continue to promote dialogue with China because it would be a mistake to leave it to Russia. Most commentators stress that dialogue is also in Beijing's interest.

Finland has had two pandas on loan from China since 2018. The costs for Ähtäri Zoo, where the animals are kept, amount to 1.5 million euros per year for rent and maintenance and have now become a bone of contention. A government proposal to provide 5 million euros in funding for the zoo has met with criticism, partly because two of its ministers come from the Ähtäri constituency. The zoo wants to return the animals to China. The press points to the international dimensions of the affair.

China will cede the rank of the world's most populous country to India this year - but politically and economically it remains Asia's number one superpower. However, Beijing's confrontation with Taiwan, its alliance with Russia and its political and economic expansionism could take an unexpected turn this year, Europe's press speculates.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has ended his controversial visit to the People's Republic of China. While he was able to induce head of state Xi Jinping to speak out against the use of nuclear weapons "in Eurasia", he only broached the subject of human rights abuses against the Uyghurs in passing. Commentators' take mixed views of the results.

The National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing has confirmed that Xi Jinping will continue as General Secretary of the Party for a third term. The new party leadership also consists solely of Xi loyalists. Former head of state Hu Jintao was unexpectedly led out of the hall during the closing ceremony - apparently against his will. Europe's press examines what the new era in Chinese politics means for people in China and abroad.

The 23rd EU-China summit will take place on the first of April via video conference. The main topic will be the war in Ukraine and its global repercussions. China has declared itself neutral in the conflict and has not condemned the Russian invasion. But while continuing to maintain good relations with Moscow, Beijing has also said that Ukraine has the right to sovereignty.

About half a year after Lithuania's decision to allow a Taiwanese diplomatic mission to open in Vilnius, the country's economy is suffering the consequences of sanctions by Beijing. The EU has launched proceedings before the WTO over the matter. In Lithuania, resentment is growing, especially among business people and opposition politicians. The national press is divided.

Lithuania and China are at loggerheads after the Baltic state gave Taiwan permission to set up a diplomatic mission called the Taiwanese Representative Office in its capital in August. China, which rejects any official use of the name "Taiwan" and considers the island part of its own territory, has reacted by imposing economic sanctions and withdrawing its ambassador. Who will stand by Lithuania?

The Shanghai-based Fudan University plans to open a campus in Budapest in 2024, with a capacity of around 5,000 students and 500 teaching staff. Hungary's Minister of Innovation and Technology, László Palkovics, signed a corresponding agreement with the university's president in Shanghai in 2019. Hotly debated in Hungary, the decision is also causing consternation in neighbouring Austria.

After almost seven years of deadlock, the EU's negotiations with China on an investment agreement were concluded at the turn of the year. The deal gives Europe's companies easier access to the world's largest and fastest-growing market. Increased cooperation with China was a primary concern of the German EU presidency - but is likely to displease the new US administration. Many commentators are also disgruntled.

The Swedish Post and Telecom Authority has banned the Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE from providing equipment for the country's 5G network. It thus joins the ranks of countries like the UK and the United States which do not want to entrust China, which, experts argue, forces its companies to cooperate with its intelligence agencies, with the construction of critical infrastructure. The Swedish press welcome the decision.

In January, despite pressure from the US, London decided to allow Huawei, the Chinese global leader in communications services, to participate in the development of the new 5G mobile network in the UK. Now the government has reversed the decision and announced that all components that have already been installed will be removed from the network. Commentators discuss how the rest of Europe should respond.

The Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei will be allowed to participate, albeit with certain restrictions, in the expansion of the 5G mobile network in the UK. The British government announced the decision on Tuesday. The US had advised Boris Johnson against the move due to the risk of espionage. European media assess the decision also in the light of Friday's Brexit.

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?