Large commerce accomplice and ‘systemic rival.’ Europe has a China downside

Huge trade partner and 'systemic rival.' Europe has a China problem


But a souring relationship with an increasingly unpredictable Beijing, regret about the price Europe has paid for getting too close to Russia, and rising geopolitical tension has some EU officials considering whether the bloc should start to reduce its exposure.

A lot has happened since the last time an EU president — appointed by the leaders of the 27 EU member states — met with Xi in person four years ago.

The Covid-19 pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and tit-for-tat sanctions between China and EU lawmakers have strained relations since. The United States, which imposed controls on exports of semiconductors to China in October, is reportedly exerting pressure on Europe to adopt a similarly hard line.

Michel’s spokesperson, Barend Leyts, said in a statement last week that Michel’s visit provides a “timely opportunity” for Europe and China to engage on matters of “common interest.” He did not specify which subjects would be discussed.

But some within Europe are growing…