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Global player? EU summit to seek answers on China, U.S. strategy By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – An attendant passes China and EU flags in front of the EU/China High-level Economics Dialogue at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, Beijing, China on June 25, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo


Robin Emmott

BRUSSELS/Reuters – Tuesday will see the 27 European Union leaders seek a different approach to China in their first summit of Sino-European strategy. The meeting is taking place after March’s imposition of sanctions on Beijing. Retaliation was possible, which could have a negative impact on a proposed investment pact.

On March 22, the EU placed sanctions on Chinese officials for human rights violations. Beijing has denied this. Beijing immediately placed sanctions on the EU to block approval of an EU-China investment contract.

A diplomat from the EU stated, “The EU sought to avoid confrontation against Beijing but we cannot longer view China as a benign trade partner.”

EU leaders in Slovenia will hear from Emmanuel Macron (French counterpart) about how they can project power in international affairs. This is after Britain, Australia and the United States secretly formed a military alliance against China.

The EU is the largest trade bloc in the world. It has the power to set rules and shape policies far beyond its borders. However, it has failed repeatedly to coordinate an international or military strategy, weakening their influence.

High-ranking diplomats from the EU and EU leaders hope this informal gathering will be an occasion to reflect on the possibility of Washington shifting its foreign policy to Asia and becoming more independent.

There are no decisions to be made.

One senior EU official said that there were “some strategic questions” to address. The meeting will take place in Brdo (near the Slovenia capital Ljubljana) on Tuesday and Wednesday. Leaders from the EU will then be joined by those of the six Balkan nations hoping to join the bloc on Wednesday.

Australia’s move to abandon a major submarine contract with France to choose for U.S.-designed ships instead in the AUKUS security partnership with Washington and Britain angered France. But it may give rise to EU common defense plans.

We could pretend that nothing happened and turn our blind eyes to it. “We think it would be a mistake to all Europeans,” a Macron adviser told reporters. “There is really an opportunity there.”

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