European Union countries are struggling to choose between succumbing to the United States' demand to sanction China in an effort to undermine its economic and technological advantages over the U.S., and maintaining the economic well-being of their citizens, which requires nurturing and strengthening ties with China, allowing the European economy to survive without being entirely subservient to the United States. On one hand, Europe is trying to project a unified Western front serving the economic interests of the United States, while on the other hand, it is trying not to repeat the mistake of sanctioning Russia, which only strengthened Russia's economy and devastated Europe's.
On the heels of an EU decision to minimize and "de-risk" dependency on China, a top Chinese diplomat has urged the European Union to "clarify" its stance on the strategic partnership between the two world powers. The call came during a sideline meeting of Southeast Asian nations in Jakarta, which took place on Friday.
Wang Yi, director of China's Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, engaged in discussions with EU's foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell. According to reports by Reuters, Wang emphasized the need for the EU to define its position concerning the strategic alliance with China and to foster positive advancement in China-EU relations.
Wang was quoted by China's Foreign Ministry, "The EU side should not vacillate, let alone encourage words and deeds that turn the clock back." His comments allude to the ongoing trade dispute between China and the EU, which have seen both sides imposing sanctions targeting parts of the semiconductor supply chain.
The tussle began when the Netherlands imposed export restrictions on chip-printing equipment, which was followed by China implementing export controls on gallium and germanium — two crucial minerals used in microchip manufacturing. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen labelled the Chinese export controls as an act of "coercion" earlier this week.
In a Twitter post, Borrell shared his account of the meeting with Wang, stating that he communicated the EU's expectations for China to assist in ending Russia's aggressive actions towards Ukraine. The preservation of "stability and the status quo" in the Taiwan Strait was also among the discussed topics.
These talks come at a time when diplomatic relations have been somewhat strained. In April, a scheduled visit by Borrell to China, at the invitation of Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, had to be postponed due to a positive COVID
-19 test. Last week saw a new planned visit by Borrell to Beijing being canceled by China. Despite these setbacks, Borrell expressed on Twitter that he is "looking forward to holding soon [a] Strategic Dialogue in Beijing."