Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye expressed hope that China and the EU will continue to seek common ground while overcoming difficulties together.
by Statecraft Staff
February 14, 2023
Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye speaking at an event.
Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye expressed hope that China and the EU will prioritise restarting economic and trade cooperation and revive China-EU relations, which are “under enormous pressure.”
Why Have China-EU Relations Degraded?
During an interview with Chinese state-owned media house Global Times published on Monday, Lu acknowledged that Beijing’s relations with Brussels have “indeed encountered many difficulties in the last two years” and that there has been “a serious deviation in the EU’s positioning of China,” which he called “regrettable.”
The diplomat stated that there were four reasons for this:
The US increased China’s “containment and suppression” since the start of the Ukraine war by “coercing and luring its allies […] to take sides.” It “engaged in anti-China propaganda and spread various rumours and lies,” which “seriously” misled European governments.
The EU views China as a “competitor and an institutional opponent,” which he said, “reveals the opportunistic and speculative mind-set of some EU politicians.”
“Small” EU countries, such as Lithuania, as well as the European Parliament had made “a series of deleterious moves” with respect to “China’s Taiwan and Xinjiang regions,” which had “seriously” damaged China’s core interests.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further disrupted economic and trade cooperation, deepening the gap.
Differences Lu said that despite the “grim situation,” the Chinese government believes that there is “no fundamental conflict of interests or contradiction” between the two sides geographically, and that they “do not pose a security threat to each other.”
As far as ideological differences, the diplomat quipped that “the reality is that neither side can change the other.”
“I think Europe should not try to hit China with an ideological club and expect cooperation in return.”
The Chinese ambassador expressed hope that the two will continue to seek common ground while overcoming difficulties together.
He further hoped Brussels would work together with Beijing to revive relations and “accelerate the restart” of their “high-level exchanges, economic and trade cooperation, and people-to-people and cultural exchanges.”
Deteriorated Trade Ties
In 2021, the European Parliament officially suspended the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) with China after passing a resolution reasoning that China’s human rights record was “at its worst since the Tiananmen Square Massacre.” It said that the freeze was aimed at protesting against the ongoing violations in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.