EU should stand on the right side of history by upholding autonomy

By China Daily editorial (China Daily) 08:37, April 02, 2022

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen via video link in Beijing, capital of China, April 1, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

Despite the two sides' divergences on the Ukraine crisis and some other issues, the virtual meeting between President Xi Jinping and European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen late Friday prove they can still focus on their common interests and shared responsibility to the world.

This is the first meeting between the Chinese and European Union leaders since the flare-up of the Ukraine conflict. It serves as a good opportunity for the two sides to deepen their mutual understanding and trust on not only the Ukraine issue but also their general bilateral relations.

Xi's emphases that the EU should form its own knowledge on China and uphold autonomous China policies, and the bloc should play a leading role in building a balanced, effective and sustainable security mechanism in Europe should have stricken a chord with the two EU leaders, who should know that Xi has hit the nail on the head in pointing out the root cause of the dilemma the bloc is facing at present.

The retirement of former German chancellor Angela Merkel, whose tenure saw the EU's effort to seek its status as an independent and responsible power while balancing well its ties with the United States, China and Russia, proves a turning point as after that it started surrendering its hard-earned initiatives in diplomacy, development and security to the US.

But what it has reaped from that, over less than three months after Merkel's step-down, should have awaken the EU leaders to the fact in doing so the bloc is quickly downgrading itself into an expendable piece on Washington's geopolitical chessboard.

The returns the US paid it back include stalled ties with China, its largest trade partner, major investor and stable partner in addressing global warming, an all-round confrontation with Russia, its largest natural gas provider and major industrial raw material provider, the largest war and humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II. And the US is seemingly at least gaining an upper hand over almost all stakeholders simply by pulling the EU to its sides to disturb the balance.

If the EU leaders really know about that, which even outsiders see clearly, they should give a serious thinking to President Xi's warning that the Cold War mentality, something the US has tried to breathe life into and brainwash the European stakeholders with, should not be adopted to construct world and regional security framework, which could only result in politicization and weaponization of economy, finance, technology, trade, energy and food.

With nearly 5 million Ukrainian refugees fleeing to the EU — Washington only agrees to accept 100,000 of them in principle at least — and nearly all of the bloc's natural gas supplies being disrupted — the US only agrees to make up for less than 10 percent of the gap — the EU leaders must have a first-hand experience of the justification of Xi's warning.

China is doing nothing but encouraging the EU to bear a bigger picture in mind and stand on the right side of history.

Also, with Xi reassuring them that China's stance on advancing Sino-EU relations remains unchanged, the EU leaders' plausible positive statements on the bloc's readiness to further promoting bilateral exchanges and cooperation on various fronts should be seen as originating from the EU's pressing needs to find back a reliable partner to help pull it out of its current quagmire rather than only symbolic etiquette.

Next year marks the 30th anniversary of the founding of the EU. It is also an original aspiration of its founders, if not a painful lessons they have drawn from the Cold War, that the EU should be a united and responsible player in a multi-polar world. But that will not be viable until it achieves its autonomy on the world stage.

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Liang Jun)


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