Chinese question is essential for NATO and Europeans

The Atlantic organization meets on Wednesday on the challenges posed by China while Charles Michel should meet Xi Jinping in Beijing.

by Philippe Jacqué (Brussels, European office)

After the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, must meet Xi Jinping in Beijing, Thursday 1 December, ahead of the Chinese capital the French president, Emmanuel Macron , and the new head of the Italian government, Giorgia Meloni. That European political leaders thus visit the head of the second world economic power, the leading trading partner, moreover, of the old continent, is not a surprise. The fact remains that the debate in Brussels and between Europeans on the nature of the relationship to maintain with the Asian giant is vivid, under the constant pressure of the American ally.

In October, the heads of state of the twenty-seven decided to keep the dialogue open with China, a country which they define both as a partner, a competitor and a systemic rival. Thursday, in Beijing, Charles Michel must maintain, in addition to the war in Ukraine, major global and commercial subjects.

At the same time, while Emmanuel Macron begins a state visit to Washington, the number two of European diplomacy, Stefano Sannino, also goes to the American capital. And Beijing is clearly part of the discussions. “China is a subject far too important to be put aside in our exchanges with the United States, confides a senior Brussels official. This represents both a challenge and a threat. Between the United States and Europe, How should we work on this subject, knowing that we have an opposition of style between the muscular and aggressive approach of the United States and that, much more measured, of Europeans? “

” Manage the risks “

At the same time, the question of relations with China interferes in another agora, that of NATO, the military alliance of the Euro-Atlantic zone. Wednesday, November 30, the foreign ministers of the thirty allies as well as the ministers of Finland and Sweden, also invited before their official entry as a member country, were to address to Bucharest the application of the new strategic concept adopted in June in Madrid. And specifically evoke China.

“In 2019, the Alliance led its very first examination of its relationship to China and since then, gradually, after a long dialogue, NATO inserted the word” China “in the strategic concept in order to evoke All the challenges posed by this country, “recalls Julianne Smith, the American ambassador to the organization. “The paragraphs concerning China have been the greatest discussion, because the vision of China on both sides of the Atlantic is not the same,” observes Sven Biscop, director of the Royal Egmont Institute, in Brussels.

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/Media reports cited above.