EU-China deal: Expert says China is ‘devoid of credibility’
Meanwhile former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib has said the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) puts the bloc at dangerously odds with the US – and underlines why the UK needed to work hard to strengthen the special relationship especially having quit the bloc. The deal was unveiled on December 30 following a phone call between China’s President, Xi Jinping, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, European Council president Charles Michel and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on behalf of the Presidency of the EU Council, as well as French President Emmanuel Macron.
For the trans-Atlantic relationship, it’s a slap in the face
Philippe Le Corre
However, it rapidly became apparently the the incoming Biden administration was deeply unhappy with the decision to strengthen ties with China given its human rights record, not least accusations of genocide in the Xinjiang province and ongoing crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong.
Additionally, the US takes a dim view of the situation given China’s increasingly belligerent foreign policy, not least in relation to the South China Sea and Taiwan.
Speaking last week, Philippe Le Corre, a China scholar affiliated with Harvard’s Kennedy School and the Carnegie Endowment, said: “For the trans-Atlantic relationship, it’s a slap in the face.
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“It’s damaged the trans-Atlantic relationship already.”
Mr Le Corre, who suggested the deal would benefit Germany above all other European nations, told the New York Times it was an indication of the “mistrust” he said EU leaders felt as a result of the presidency of Donald Trump.
He explained: “The last four years of Trump have left a stain, on Germany and Merkel especially.
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“There is huge disappointment and some unknowns about Biden, and the 74 million who voted for Trump shows the situation in the US is far from settled.”
Defence analyst Alan Tonelson, writing on the National Interest website, made a similar point, saying of Mr Biden: “Has he been ready for a punch in the mouth from America’s allies?
“Because that’s what he got from the European Union when it announced that it’s reached what it, anyway, considers to be a major investment deal with China.”
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Mr Habib is concerned at the prospect of UK involvement in the European Defence Fund, which he fears could pave the way for a European army.
He told Express.co.uk: “Their foreign policy initiatives are very opposed to what the US wants.
“They have just signed this new investment agreement with China.
“There is no requirement in that agreement for human rights abuses to be investigated or for China to uphold environmental laws anything like that.
“Yet in the trade agreement with us they have got all this stuff which we are obliged to sign up to.
“They are pivoting towards China, they are pivoting in favour of Iran.”
Speaking just two days before the agreement was confirmed, Mr Biden said: “As we compete with China and hold China’s government accountable for its abuses on trade, technology, human rights, and other fronts.
“Our position will be much stronger when we build coalitions of like‐ minded partners and allies to make common cause with us in defence of our shared interests and values.
“On any issue that matters to the US-China relationship including ensuring security and prosperity in the Indo‐Pacific region, we are stronger and more effective when we are flanked by nations that share our vision for the future of our world.”
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