Thursday, December 1, 2022

Borrell calls for China’s dependence not to be as “vulnerable” as Russia’s

The high community representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, said that the EU has to be sure that its “dependencies” on China “do not become vulnerabilities as has happened with energy dependence on Russia.”

“Our dependence on China with respect to the green transition may be as important in the future as our dependence on Russia’s fossil fuels has been important today,” Borrell said in a debate in the European Parliament on the EU’s relationship with the Asian giant.

The head of European diplomacy pointed out that 90% of the EU’s demand for rare minerals comes from China or that eight out of ten solar panels that Europe imports are produced in that country, a figure that has increased exponentially since the start of the war in Ukraine.

“Everyone is fine with us increasing investment in renewable energy and putting in a lot of solar panels. Do you know where they come from? From China. So, what is the bad thing, having them or importing them?” Borrell asked the MEPs.

Even so, the high representative said that we must be “realistic” and understand that the EU will have to continue to relate to China in the future, taking into account that the form that this link takes “will mark the history of this century and ours in particular”.

“We have established such an important commercial relationship with China and our companies have invested so much in China (…) that we cannot think that we can build a future without taking into account the enormous strength of a country that is called to play in the world on role that corresponds to it due to its size, due to its economic strength”, he pointed out.

“And that, regardless of the fact that our economic system is not the same as yours,” he said.

He recalled that the EU daily exchanges goods with China worth 2,000 million dollars and in this sense, he defended the visit that the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, made to Beijing on November 4, in which he met with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping.

“I don’t understand why the German chancellor’s visit to China is causing such concern, when Germany exports 3% or more of its products to China,” Borrell said.

Scholz’s trip to Beijing with a delegation of German businessmen aroused criticism in various quarters for his perception that Berlin is strengthening its ties with China just as it did with Russia with the construction of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines.

The relationship with the world’s second largest economy is “complex” and “complexity is there to stay,” said Borrell, who stated that “at the same time,” the EU “will continue to work so that this link “does not detract from the defense that we make of our principles and values”.

Last October, the high representative presented a document to the EU foreign ministers in which he warned that the Twenty-seven have to redefine their relationship with Beijing, taking into account that it is “an even stronger competitor”.

The Secretary General of the European External Action Service, Stefano Sannino, will travel to Washington next week to discuss with the United States how the relationship with China should be approached.

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