Senior Chinese officials, including Vice Premier Liu He and the Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, met with German officials in Brussels to discuss US President Donald Trump’s trade policies.
Meeting ahead of a Sino-European summit in Beijing on July 16-17, the Chinese officials proposed an alliance between their country and the EU and offered to open more of the Chinese market in a gesture of goodwill.
One proposal is for China and the EU to lunch joint action against the US at the World Trade Organisation.
As reported by the Reuters news agency, however, the EU rejected the idea of allying with Beijing against Washington, five EU officials and diplomats told Reuters.
The upcoming summit is expected to produce a modest communiqué, which affirms the commitment of both sides to the multilateral trading system and promises to set up a working group on modernising the WTO, the EU officials said.
“China wants the European Union to stand with Beijing against Washington, to take sides,” said one European diplomat. “We won’t do it and we have told them that.”
According to Reuters, Brussels shares Washington’s concern about China’s closed markets and what Western governments say is Beijing’s manipulation of trade to dominate global markets.
“We agree with almost all the complaints the US has against China, it’s just we don’t agree with how the United States is handling it,” another diplomat said.
“Trump has split the West, and China is seeking to capitalise on that. It was never comfortable with the West being one bloc,” said a European official involved in EU-China diplomacy.
“China now feels it can try to split off the European Union in so many areas, on trade, on human rights,” the official said.
Another official described the dispute between Trump and Western allies at the Group of Seven summit last month as a gift to Beijing because it showed European leaders losing a long-time ally, at least in trade policy.