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Home / Technology / This is China's playbook to pit EU countries against each other

This is China's playbook to pit EU countries against each other

 xi jinping Xi Jinping Reuters
  • President Xi Jinping is on a six-day visit to Italy, Monaco, and France, where he plans to court individual EU countries and foster relationships with each of them
  • It comes as the EU is trying to hammer out a coherent and aggressive policy against China in terms of trade and security.
  • Experts say China could be picking off EU countries and pitting them against each other to prevent the 28 -nation bloc from having one united policy that could hamper Beijing's economic plans.

China has big ambitions for the EU ̵

1; and the bloc seems rattled.

The EU is trying to hammer out a coherent policy to deal with China, while Beijing has been actively courting relationships with individual EU countries.

Experts say this could be part of China's playbook to pit EU states against each other, to avoid the bloc – its biggest trading partner – from formulating trade practices that could harm Beijing. in Europe, visiting Italy, Monaco, and France, where he plans to meet with leaders and undertake trade negotiations.

In Rome on Saturday Xi oversaw Italy's signing a memorandum of understanding to join the Belt and Road Initiative, China's flagship trade project aimed at connect the world via infrastructure.

The two nations also signed for additional deals in sectors including port management, energy, steel, and gas, which could be worth up to 20 billion euros ($ 22.62 billion), Reuters reported. 19659008] Read more: Xi Jinping's dream to connect the entire world with Chinese-built infrastructure just claimed one of its biggest victories yet

Li Keqiang, China's premier, is also to visit Brussels for an EU-China summit on April 9 before going to Croatia with the 16 + 1, a consortium of 11 EU member states in central and eastern Europe, and five Balkan countries that Beijing devised as part of its push into Europe.

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Is China trying to divide the EU?

Robert Cooper, a EU foreign policy adviser, told the Financial Times last week: "China has discovered Teresa Coratella, program manager at the European Council on Foreign Relations in Rome, customs business insider: "I think that China would definitely prefer to have 27 different policies instead of one united one, because this would leave more space for maneuvering and for pushing for its own primary interests. But this would be the case of any partner of the EU. "

She said, however, that China wasn't trying to divide the EU – rather the act of pitting EU countries against one another for Beijing's benefit was" simple politics and policymaking. "

" China is pushing for its own strategic interests, "she said." The final objective is to go back to China with the best outcome that one could get. " interests of anyone to show a divided Europe, but again whatever would have China most of it, China will do it. It's just simple politics and policymaking. "

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Europe's muddled policy on China [19659026] The EU has been split over its attitude to China's economic influence.

Some EU leaders have recently been trying to intensify the block's efforts to formulate a coordinated and aggressive approach toward China, particularly in terms of trade, while others countries like Italy have sought closer relations with Beijing, see it as a new source of investment for Europe.

Countries like Germany and France have been concerned with what they consider unfair subsidies affe cting the price of Chinese imports into the EU, and state involvement in the economy.

The two countries have pushed for more stringent screening measures on foreign investment in what appears to be an effort to restrict China's access to the EU , Reuters noted

"The period of European naivety is over," French President Emmanuel Macron told an EU conference on Friday, reference to the EU relationship with China.

"China is a partner, but it is at the same time a competitor. It's crucial that there be fair trade conditions, "Sebastian Kurz added at the same meeting.

 huawei A staff member of Huawei uses her mobile phone at the Huawei Digital Transformation Showcase in Shenzhen, China's Guangdong province on March 6, 2019. WANG ZHAO / AFP / Getty Images

The EU has also been a stock market against the US in terms of cyber security, the Trump administration has been pressuring the EU to ban Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant, from its 5G network It even warned Germany that if it adopted Huawei's technology, it would risk losing access to US intelligence sharing.

The bloc has appeared unwilling to impose a blanket on Huawei

According to a Politico report, Ulrik Trolle Smed, chief cybersecurity advises to European Security Commissioner Julian King, said last month: " A complete ban, I don't think that's the European way." 19659039] Read more : Huawei's CTO for Germany dismisses spying claims as absurd and 'technically impossible'

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'The perfect time' for China to visit Europe

Xi and Li's visits are strategically timed because the EU is distracted with internal politics, and is therefore more susceptible to foreign influences their policymaking, Coratella said.

"All the member states are now totally involved in political campaigning or EU elections [from May 23 to 25]," she said. preoccupied with Brexit negotiations, she said. "Traditional parties and governments are fighting to regain some of the consensus that they lost, and on the other side, you have new political movements, new political parties gaining much consensus." ] "The moment is perfect for an external actor," she said.

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