United We Stand: EU and US Reaffirm Alliance to Stand Up to China and Russia

Written by | Saturday, June 19th, 2021

US President Joe Biden’s trip to Europe marked a change from predecessor as he tried to rally allies to deal with rivals Russia and China. Thus, on his first overseas trip as U.S. president, both Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wanted to make a public show that America and Europe can now unite and jointly confront China. The settlement on aircraft subsidies sealed Tuesday (15 June) is code for China. Officials in Brussels and Washington say that Beijing has exploited the loopholes in the World Trade Organization’s rulebook to deploy as much as $500 billion of state aid to give its companies an unfair advantage in global trade. And Biden made clear that he aims for this to be just the start. “It’s a model we can build on for other challenges posed by China’s economic model,” Biden said in an emailed statement after the deal.
The EU signed up to the deal despite its reluctance to match Washington’s assertive line on China. The bloc’s approach to China has been hardening since the spring when a tit-for-tat sanctions fight with Beijing over its alleged human-rights abuses in Xinjiang left their landmark investment deal in limbo. The EU also agreed to a deal with Canada on Wednesday (16 June) to secure supply chains for critical raw materials that don’t rely on China. Also during the one-day NATO summit on Monday (14 June), leaders expressed a new concern about China’s growing military might, signaling a fundamental shift in the attentions of an alliance devoted to protecting Europe and North America — not Asia. In particular, Beijing’s „assertive behaviour“ presents a „systemic challenge“ to the „rules-based international order“, the transatlantic security alliance said in a communique issued after the summit. This show of unity has marked a diplomatic victory for the U.S. president, who had urged the 30-member strong alliance to stand up to China’s burgeoning military, political and economic might. Meanwhile,
Meanwhile, the Chinese mission to the EU denounced a NATO statement that declared Beijing a “security challenge,” saying China is actually a force for peace but will defend itself if threatened. The Chinese news release said the Nato statement was a “slander on China’s peaceful development, a misjudgment of the international situation and (NATO’s) own role, and a continuation of the Cold War mentality and organizational political psychology.“ But while NATO needs to confront China, it is Russia that remains the „most immediate threat“, according to a U.S. official. Concurring with this view, EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell urged the bloc on Wednesday to be „more robust and resilient“ against Russian attempts to undermine it and respond to threats in a more systematic and unified manner.
While presenting a 14-page report on the bloc’s new Russia strategy, entitled “Push Back, Constrain and Engage,” Borrell admitted that managing the relationship with Moscow is a “key strategic challenge” for the bloc because of its attempt to interfere in and destabilize member states as well as neighbouring countries but also because “the potential for EU-Russia cooperation is very considerable”. To constrain Russia’s assertiveness, the EU must strengthen its “counter-hybrid toolbox”, according to the report. Presenting a united front is critical, Borrell said, acknowledging that at the moment “Russia is not interested in engaging with the EU and it prefers to do directly and talk to member states” to secure bilateral deals. This policy aims to eliminate this option by forcing Russia to talk to the EU or talk to no one,” Borrell said.

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