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U.S. attempt to pull Europe into its anti-China crusade has proven futile

By Zamir Ahmed Awan (People's Daily Online)    16:21, August 28, 2020

The U.S. is going all out to spread anti-China sentiment around the globe, using the media as a tool to defame China, and spreading fabricated stories, fake news, and negative perceptions about the country. It is an established fact that the Western media dominates the global narrative, and the U.S. is exploiting it. Social media is being used as an even more effective tool used against China.

On top of that, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been touring the world, with one of his objectives being to create an anti-China alliance. Historically, the U.S. has always formed alliances and built a narrative before any major agenda push. This time, the U.S. is harbouring evil designs to counter China, contain China, and resist China's peaceful rise. The U.S. has a track record of forming alliances for its quests. In recent history, whether it was a war on Iraq, Libya, Syria, or Afghanistan, the U.S. created an alliance before it attacked.

Secretary Pompeo’s latest tour of four European nations - Czech Republic, Slovenia, Austria, and Poland - was in line with this endeavor. However, in his crusade against China and Russia, the narrative has found little support and an anti-China alliance has failed to materialise. On the contrary, Europe was visibly divided, and he faced widespread criticism for trying to split the continent.

His agenda was to convince Europe to ban Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant, which is considered a “national security threat” by Washington due to its leading role in 5G technology, and to block Russian gas supplies to Western Europe.

During his visit, Secretary Pompeo tried to convert them into believing that China and Russia pose a dangerous threat to "the democratic world," saying that using technologies from the two countries would be harmful to the independence of those nations. Not only did his attempts to convince them prove futile, but they were ultimately rejected out of hand.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said that the Czech Republic is a sovereign country and he does not see any major threat. On relations with China, he said that the Czech Republic "seeks guidelines with the European Union, and there's no major problem here," despite Pompeo's best attempts to create dissent. The Czech Republic treats all countries alike. He also declined to rule out Huawei as a prospective partner in 5G technology construction, despite Pompeo's opposition.

During a joint news conference with the U.S. Secretary of State, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said, "Our view is not to ban in general one competitor or one service-provider, but to declare a clear list of criteria to avoid high-risk providers." The Austrian government's stand is comparable to the Czech Republic’s. Schallenberg said that Vienna had agreed to a common position within the E.U., which has been termed the "E.U. toolbox."

"The signing of the political declaration on 5G security between Slovenian Foreign Minister (Anze) Logar and U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo does not follow Slovenia's interests," member of the European Parliament and member of the leadership of the Slovenian Social Democratic Party Milan Brglez said. The Slovenian local newspaper Vecer carried a commentary saying that Pompeo had found a willing audience among Slovenian officials for U.S. plans to edge out Chinese competition in 5G telecommunications and contain Russia's energy expansion. "We cannot get rid of the feeling that all that search for threats to human rights, secure communications, the rule of law and democracy is not about those values of Western civilization, but about who gets a bigger slice of the pie in this future business, and consequently controls the world," said the commentary.

U.S.-Poland defense cooperation is another thorn in the side of Washington and Berlin, as well as between Warsaw and Berlin. On Saturday, Pompeo and Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak signed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which involves the opening of a base in Poland for the U.S. Army, probably in 2021. The total number of American soldiers will increase by 1,000 to around 5,500. The strengthened U.S.-Poland defense cooperation came as Washington decided to withdraw around one-third of its troops from Germany as a punishment for Berlin's non-compliance with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO's) 2 percent of gross domestic product defense spending standard and Nord Stream 2.

Currently, the US is the largest trading partner of the E.U. But some European countries are not reaping the benefits, with only a few countries in Europe dominating trade with the U.S. China is the second-largest economy, but is growing and expected to surpass the American economy within a few years. Furthermore, the Chinese market, with a population of 1.4 billion, is enormous and presents a huge temptation for Europe. The good news is that China’s purchasing power is the highest in the world. Europe simply cannot ignore China.

Although the U.S. has provided security to the E.U. against any threat from Russia, the emerging trend in U.S. defense policy is to get rid of its liabilities. The U.S. has spread its military bases all over the world and engaged in several fronts simultaneously around the globe. The U.S. has spent an estimated 30 trillion U.S. Dollars on wars around the world in just the last couple of decades. Its economy cannot sustain such lavish defense spending. The U.S. is withdrawing its troops from Syria, Afghanistan, Germany, and many other places around the world. According to former National Security Advisor John Bolton, the Trump administration may pull the U.S. out of NATO very soon.

Under this scenario, the E.U. can no longer depend solely on the U.S. Either they join China or maintain good relations with both China and the U.S. But they cannot afford to be solely anti-China. 

The opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to People's Daily Online.

Zamir Ahmed Awan is a senior fellow with the Center for China and Globalization (CCG) and a sinologist at the National University of Sciences and Technology in Pakistan. E-mail: [email protected]

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