China Turns up the Heat on Trade Alliances
China has begun pressuring European Union countries to band together in a joint statement later this month taking a stand against U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade policies. China has offered several cooperation possibilities including the potential for China and the EU to oppose the U.S. at the World Trade Organization (WTO). China’s call to action has been met by resistance from EU leaders.
Leaders from both regions are expected to meet on July 16-17 at the Sino-European summit in Beijing. With the EU dragging its heels, the summit is expected to yield limited fruits in the way of a commitment from both sides to a multilateral trading system which would modernize the WTO.
Vice Premier Liu He has said privately that China is ready to set out for the first time what sectors it can open to European investment at the annual summit, expected to be attended by President Xi Jinping, China’s Premier Li Keqiang and top EU officials.
Chinese state media has promoted the message that the European Union is on China’s side, officials said, putting the bloc in a delicate position. The past two summits, in 2016 and 2017, ended without a statement due to disagreements over the South China Sea and trade.
“China wants the European Union to stand with Beijing against Washington, to take sides,” said one European diplomat. “We won’t do it and we have told them that.”
China’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Beijing’s summit aims.