United Against China: EU with G7 Powers Hit Back at Beijing’s Expansionist Policies

Written by | Friday, May 7th, 2021

The European Union and other leading powers voiced strident criticism of China as G7 foreign ministers met in the British capital in London over the past three days (3-5 May), even as Hungary, once again, tried to gag Europe in Brussels. “We remain seriously concerned about the situation in and around the East and South China Seas,” the G7 communiqué said, alluding to China’s expansionist territorial claims. In a separate but related development, the EU has announced it was suspending plans for a trade deal with China, while reviving those for a pact with India, in a dispute on Chinese human-rights abuses. “We now, in a sense, have suspended … political outreach activities from the European Commission side,” on ratification of the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), EU trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis told the AFP news agency on Tuesday (4 May).
The 27-nation bloc also unveiled on Wednesday (5 May) a plan to cut its dependency on Chinese and other foreign suppliers in six strategic areas like raw materials, pharmaceutical ingredients and semiconductors after the pandemic-induced economic slump. Brussels outlined the urgency of the task citing Europe’s reliance on China for about half of 137 products used in sensitive ecosystems, mainly raw materials and pharmaceuticals and other products key to the bloc’s green and digital goals. The updated industrial strategy plan was devised after the COVID-19 pandemic showed bottlenecks in supply chain and the European Commission plans to conduct in-depth reviews of supply chains in raw materials, batteries, active pharmaceutical ingredients, hydrogen, semiconductors and cloud and edge technologies, to decide how to deal with them. The planned EU measures are “about making sure our industries are equipped to drive the digital and green transformations of our economy while ensuring the competitiveness of our industries, also in the context of the recovery from the coronavirus crisis,” European Commission Vice-President Margrethe Vestager said.
Meanwhile, there is “no need” for any Chinese military base in this ocean, said Portugal’s minister of defence, João Gomes Cravinho, when asked recently about a possible Chinese military presence in the Atlantic, adding that it was “not a good idea” to transform this region into a scenario of “geopolitical conflict”. Any Chinese military base in the Atlantic Ocean is unnecessary and any such hypothesis would be viewed with “strong concern”, Cravinho said, but also noted that he had not received any indication that it might happen. The minister made the remarks during a seminar on ‘Challenges in Global Security and the Future of Transatlantic Relations’ held as part of Portugal’s presidency of the Council of the EU. “The challenges of the Atlantic Ocean do not require a non-Atlantic country to establish a base in the region,“ Cravinho said.

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