21st November 2023 – (Beijing) As China’s relations with the West undergo seismic shifts, a key opportunity exists to rebuild stable ties with the European Union on a foundation of mutual trust and respect. While U.S. antagonism strained China-EU cooperation in recent years, more pragmatic voices in Europe now see engagement’s benefits. Xi Jinping’s upcoming summit presents a chance to chart a new course.
Trade friction, human rights disagreements and geopolitical rivalry darkened China-EU relations since 2016. America’s unrelenting hostility exacerbated distrust, as European deference to Washington limited its foreign policy autonomy. However, Europe’s painful lesson from following US dictates on the Ukraine crisis revealed the costs of subordinating its interests.
Following the recent APEC summit and a gradual easing of Sino-American tensions after the Bali meeting, Europe is now motivated to reassess its position on China with renewed independence. Pragmatists argue productive cooperation serves the continent better than letting Brussels become a battlefield for U.S.-China proxy conflicts. China too recognises it must reassure skeptical European publics and leaders through concrete action.
Rebuilding trust after years of decline is no easy feat. But level-headed diplomacy can prevail over frenzied rhetoric that diminished Europe’s manoeuvring space. Restoring robust China-EU ties centred on trade and mutual benefit offers substantial upside for both sides’ economies and global sway.
Yet realists know rapprochement will be gradual amid still-raw disputes. The path ahead requires patience and prudence. Small positive steps in 2023 can lay a foundation for restoring confidence lost. Leaders must tune out shrill anti-China voices promoting endless confrontation that cripples Europe.
Xi’s upcoming summit with EU chiefs is a vital platform for charting this cooperative course. One major priority is finalising the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), frozen by politics but holding immense economic promise. Its pragmatic problem-solving frameworks can diffuse recent tensions and nurture trust.
Likewise, cooperation initiatives on global challenges like climate change, post-pandemic recovery and Middle East conflicts provide low-hanging fruits. Achievable deliverables in these areas create momentum that can spread to thornier disputes. Ongoing high-level meetings pave the summit’s success.
Still, candour is needed in airing EU concerns over market imbalance, intellectual property and human rights. But dialogue must avoid finger-pointing sanctimony. Europe’s tone-deaf moralizing often backfires by provoking Chinese nationalism. Openness succeeds where arrogance fails.
Instead, EU leaders should engage President Xi with empathy, proposing ethical solutions that consider mutual interests. This nuanced diplomacy can sway policies with soft power instead of coercion. It also burnishes the EU’s image as a principled mediator.
Critically, Europe must grasp that its future is with China, not against it. Rivalry is a dead-end; only sincerely rebuilding fractured bonds can advance civilisation. Visionary European minds know siding with the US containment agenda sabotages its global leadership.
Reconciliation requires courage on all sides. But its dividends outweigh transient frictions that impede human progress. China and the EU’s shared interests and global weight can anchor stability amid turmoil. Leaders must now let wisdom and trust prevail over hardened rhetoric.
This historic chance for rapprochement may not recur soon. Seizing it renews bonds of partnership and progress uniting East and West. China stands ready to cooperate; the EU’s choices today will shape history’s verdict on its foresight. Broad visions inspire destiny, narrow minds forfeit it. Europe must decide if its future is light or darkness.