The Big Ideas

‘Europe can’t stay neutral in US-China standoff’

Politico EU

Michael Schuman | author, Superpower Interrupted: The Chinese History of the World
‘Europe can’t stay neutral in US-China standoff’
‘Europe can’t stay neutral in US-China standoff’
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February 20, 2021
BIG IDEA | ‘China aims to create a world that is not safe for Europe — strategically, economically or ideologically.'  
'Xi is actively striving to undermine the stature of democracies in the global order. The more power China amasses, the less tolerant it will become with any government that won’t toe its line.'
'China also represents a long-term economic threat to Europe — not merely because it is an advancing competitor in a global market economy, but because Beijing’s policies are designed to use and abuse that open world economy to eventually dominate it.'  

‘Europe may not want to choose sides between the United States and China. ‘

  • ‘But like it or not, its leaders will eventually have to.’

‘On the face of it, choosing the U.S. or China seems an impossible decision between:’

  • ‘Europeans’ historic commitment to the U.S. and the democratic values that have cemented it, plus the long-standing security arrangements with the U.S. provide stability and protection against persistent threats, such as Vladimir Putin’s Russia.’
  • ‘And the lure of new riches from a rising economic powerhouse, albeit an authoritarian one, that offers European companies a treasure trove of opportunities for growth that they could not possibly find at home and that could ensure their economic future.’
  • ‘In other words, it’s a choice between principles and profits.’

‘But this is a false distinction.’

  • ‘The choice is really between long and short-term interests.’

‘The reality is that China aims to create a world that is not safe for Europe — strategically, economically or ideologically.’  

  • ‘Xi is actively striving to undermine the stature of democracies in the global order.’
  • ‘The more power China amasses, the less tolerant it will become with any government that won’t toe its line.’
  • ‘China also represents a long-term economic threat to Europe — not merely because it is an advancing competitor in a global market economy, but because Beijing’s policies are designed to use and abuse that open world economy to eventually dominate it.’  

‘Ultimately, China is simply not a true partner for Europe.’

  • The longer Europeans fail to grasp this, the weaker their position will become.

My Take

There is a wonderful sense of exasperation here of why don't the Europeans get it? But as one wag wrote German China policy is run out the Volkswagen marketing department. And that explains a lot.