Economic relations between China and the European Union may have entered a new era. EU officials announced an early international summit in Brussels to forge new trade ties with Beijing amid protectionist rhetoric from President Donald Trump.
China, which traditionally meets with the EU each July, has reportedly requested the economic summit be hosted as soon as possible in order to quickly formulate a defense for Trump’s upcoming policies that are widely expected to prioritize domestic production over foreign commerce. Meanwhile, the EU saw the meeting as an opportunity to ascertain Chinese support for the U.N. and other international entities often dismissed by the new White House administration and Russia, an unnamed EU official told Reuters.
“With this drive by some countries to undermine or weaken international institutions, we would want to see China supporting and believing in the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation,” a second EU official said.
China and the EU have often not seen eye-to-eye politically as Beijing occasionally sides with the EU’s nemesis, Russia, on foreign policy issues such as the Syrian civil war. However, both China and the EU have been directly threatened by Trump and have expressed fears that the new U.S. administration’s economic policies would disrupt their economies.
While China has said its own move to bolster domestic markets in recent years meant Trump’s proposed trade war of tariffs as high as 45 percent would have a limited effect on Beijing, a significant drop in exports last year have raised concerns that the world’s biggest economy could slow in growth. EU nations have also seen worrying signs of an economic slowdown, for which the international alliance’s financial leadership has partially blamed Trump. The U.K.’s upcoming departure from the EU, which Trump hailed as “great thing,” has also factored into a stunted GDP forecast among member states and even questions about the EU’s future.
Three weeks into his administration, Trump has remained ambiguous about much of his foreign policy strategy. His real estate company, the Trump Organization, was recently granted a lucrative trademark deal in China. In a reversal, Trump agreed to honor the “One China Policy” in which Washington foregoes normal diplomatic relations with Beijing’s rival government in Taiwan. Trump reportedly insisted, however, that he expected serious concessions on China’s part if the two countries were to maintain positive bilateral relations.
Read the full report at IB Times.