Portugal has in the past decade developed very lucrative relations with China. Chinese investment significantly assisted its recovery from the 2008 global economic crisis. However, Lisbon’s increasingly close ties with Beijing have raised serious concerns in Washington.
Chinese academic Zhang Jingwei notes that the recent meeting between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin was a step towards easing US-Russia relations. But fundamental tensions remain, not least due to NATO’s wariness of Russia and the US-China-Russia triangle.
The Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) was effectively frozen by the European Parliament last week, in consideration of China’s human rights issues in Xinjiang and its sanctions on individuals and organisations from the EU. Zaobao correspondent Edwin Ong asks: will this be the end of the deal, or is there still hope of a revival?
As China-US competition continues, economics professor Zhu Ying observes that two camps seem to be emerging. But it is not so straightforward as one camp being pro-US and another pro-China. The trilateral relationships of the US-EU-China and China-US-Russia will create pendulum swings.
US-based researcher Yu Shiyu notes that the EU seems to have gained greater unity and internal coherence from the stress test of Covid-19. In contrast, the US seems to be more divided and has not found its way around the pandemic as well as its many other domestic issues. What has the EU done right to be able to be a standard setter in the post-pandemic era?
Economics professor Zhu Ying notes that the new Biden administration is trying to rope in the EU in its efforts to contain China. However, the evidence so far seems to suggest that such a plan is unlikely to work, given the pragmatic stance exhibited by key countries such as Germany. The China-EU investment agreement is an early warning that the EU may not be a firm ally of the US, not forgetting that China has always leveraged the economy to divide the West.
German academic Jan Kliem says the Indo-Pacific that Germany envisions is neither unipolar nor bipolar, but led by multilateralism, which forms the key principle throughout its Indo-Pacific policies, from climate cooperation to security. However, while implicitly repudiating much of China’s behaviour regarding the international rules-based order, Germany is not directly criticising or shutting the door on China. This is good news for Southeast Asia and ASEAN, signalling increasing cooperation and support by both Germany and the EU for ASEAN’s multilateral (security) architecture.
The conclusion of the EU-UK Trade Cooperation Agreement and the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) in the last days of 2020 sent a strong signal that the EU will not wait for the US to resume a leading role in the world economic order. Building partnerships with countries like China are just the impetus the EU needs to deepen integration and build better prospects for itself. In this move away from a US-centric view of the economic order, the EU is not alone.