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What 'de-risking' means for China – diplomat

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There was much for Beijing to dislike in the publicly announced results of the G-7 summit held in Hiroshima from May 19 to 21. In addition to taking strategic and political positions unfavorable to China, the leaders of Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union jointly called for economic “de-risking” in their economic cooperation with China. reaffirmed his support for

Beijing’s response to the G-7 meeting suggests it is moving industrialized democracies closer to supporting a US-led effort to “contain” China. That oversimplified notion has several important and negative implications for China.

Sugar officials And commentators has recently panned Europe vehemently, pleading with European countries to distance themselves from the United States, and especially to stay out of the alleged US containment campaign. basic intonation It has been that Europeans must be wary of the self-interested United States using them as “puppets” to the detriment of their own interests. This framing made Washington an enemy as China extended an open hand to Europe.

Despite Chinese efforts, the trendlines are disappointing from Beijing’s perspective. As early as 2023, European countries move to introduce restrictions on investment in China, semiconductor exports to China, and allowing China to compete in the European renewable energy market.

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Chinese opinion towards Western Europe has apparently hardened, moving towards equating de-risk with containment. Wang Lutong, Director General of European Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Complained that on May 10 “Europe gives [China] Backstabbing… Threatening China on economic issues. May 11 editorial in state-owned Global Times regretted on Europe’s “submission to and reliance on Washington’s comprehensive containment strategy against China.”

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From Beijing’s perspective, the G-7 outcome signaled a continuation, perhaps even an acceleration, of the negative trend. That’s why China’s Foreign Ministry on May 20 accused The G-7 “containing” China. a Xinhua News Agency commentator chase on 25 May that “the G7 interprets its ‘risk’ as being driven only by China, or in other words, the only risk it can get rid of by involving China.”

This is despite the fact that official notification The G-7 meeting specified that the grouping was not in favor of containment: “Our policy approaches are not designed to harm China, nor do we seek to thwart China’s economic progress and development.”

Beijing seems unable or unwilling to understand the distinct categories of “prevention” and de-risking.

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Containment is associated with US policy towards the Soviet Union during the Cold War. This included (presumably Soviet-controlled) political and military efforts to prevent communist parties from occupying additional countries. The economic aspect was a comprehensive embargo against doing business with the Soviet Union. Most Chinese think that containment is the current US policy towards China, and they believe that the intention is to stifle the growth of China’s economic power and international influence in order to maintain Washington’s dominant position in the Asia-Pacific region. .

Xi Jinping They say The United States Is Practicing “Sweeping Control” And “Containment, Encirclement and Repression Around China.” other Chinese officials Tell The US is “trying to suppress China through every possible means.” These are gross exaggerations. In its trade with the United States in 2022, China was the beneficiary of a nearly $400 billion surplus. Washington did nothing concrete to prevent China from building military bases in the South China Sea. american university still train Thousands of Chinese students annually in STEM fields.

US policy towards China today is essentially an expansion of the 1989 arms embargo – imposed in retaliation for the Tiananmen massacre – to include restrictions on certain forms of high technology transfer, such as semiconductor, This approach is not unreasonable as China is now the strongest and most likely potential adversary of the United States. Actually, China is Too Some engaged in economic isolation from the United States in key areas.

While containment is a strategy by one great power to thwart a challenge to international strategic leadership by another great power, deterrence is entirely different, with more modest and defensive objectives. The use of the term in the context of economic relations with China is attributed to a speech by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in March 2023.

Europe does not seek strategic leadership in the Asia-Pacific region and has no hegemony to defend. Europeans would trade with the region regardless of which regional country was the strongest. Rather, de-risking aims to avoid excessive reliance on a potentially problematic supplier. China has placed itself in that category with its recent behaviour.

The Chinese government now regularly uses its economic leverage to punish trading partners over political disputes. case of australia is explanatory. Already angry with Australia for taking steps to end Chinese Communist Party interference in Australian politics, Beijing suddenly banned a number of Australian products after Canberra called on the World Health Organization to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. Import banned. European countries Similar economic pressure has been faced from China.

A related problem is the nature of China’s political system. The government is vulnerable due to the lack of a popular electoral mandate for continued one-party rule and the need to maintain the Xi Jinping personality cult. Also, an overly strong state can implement sudden and harsh policies that can disrupt the flow of supply chains passing through China.

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The Chinese Communist Party’s paramount need to save face, combined with its vast powers of control over society, led to the persistence of the lockdown into 2022, delaying China’s return to full productivity and contributing to scarcity and inflation Whole world. China’s internal politics now appear to be pushing the country towards war over Taiwan, which will indefinitely disrupt much of China’s international commerce.

In other words, Europe has ample justification for reducing its dependence on Chinese supplies for self-defense, even as it has no interest in stifling China’s economic development. China’s inability to see the difference between “prevention” and “relief” is a side effect of its refusal to engage in introspection of its own behaviour, which would be a necessary step towards reshaping European policies.

Now that US officials have adopted the term “de-risking”, the United States and Western European countries have found a unifying thread for a more coordinated China policy. Policy adjustments by the world’s major economies aimed at reducing dependence on Chinese suppliers would go a long way towards partially curbing Beijing’s influence. It is a victory for the grand strategy of the United States and a defeat for China.

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The G-7 communiqué is further evidence that China’s efforts to split Western Europe from the United States are not succeeding. Factors such as China’s unproductive “wolf warrior” diplomacy, human rights issues, the Ukraine war, and concerns about China’s bellicose signals toward Taiwan malfeasance in europe which is more than european irritated with the United States.

At stake is China’s long-term opportunity to benefit from its economic ties with Europe. Comprehensive agreement on investment between China and EU, originally accepted by both sides in 2020 over US objections, now looks dead, Europe is also likely to give a strong reply against China for the attack on Taiwan.

Beijing’s blending of de-risking and control is yet another example of Beijing’s lack of strategic empathy. China’s political climate allows little room for the idea that other countries might justifiably view some of China’s policies as troublesome or threatening. Beijing feels that much of the control is self-inflicted.