U.S. and Europe have differing stance when dealing with China

pressure Moscow. The U.S. and European allies are pressuring Moscow through coordinated weapons aid, diplomacy, and sanctions.

U.S. and Europe have differing stance when dealing with China

NYT News Service

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., walks with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen as they prepare to attend a meeting at Ronald Regan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, Calif. on April 5, 2023. McCarthy assured Tsai in a letter dated this month that America would stand by Taiwan and defend it against Chinese threats. (Philip Cheung/The New York Times).

Kevin McCarthy, the Speaker of the House in Southern California, promised Tsai-Ing-wen that he would not interfere with her.


The U.S. government has pledged to support the de facto-independent island against the constant threats that it faces


In Beijing, Ursula von der Leyen and Emmanuel Macron, President of France, urged Xi Jinping, to convince Russia to end the war in Ukraine. They also discussed ways to strengthen commerce between Europe, and China. These two visits, which took place on opposite sides the Pacific Ocean this week, highlighted the differences in priorities between American and European leaders with regard to China. They also showed the contrasts of their diplomatic approaches towards two of the most challenging security issues of our time: the Ukraine War and Taiwan.

The United States, along with its European allies, share many similar views. Russia's invasion in Ukraine has also brought them together as they coordinate arms aid, diplomacy, and sanctions to assist the Ukrainians. European officials have a more sceptical view of China and are moving closer to Washington's hard-line consensus.

State Antony Blinken

He said this in Brussels on Tuesday.

There is still a heated debate in Europe about the best approach to China, and how to balance security and trade concerns. Joe Biden, his aides, and President Obama have all denounced China for its alignment with Russia. They cited Xi’s visit to Moscow in the last month, and the diplomatic backing that Xi gave Russian President Vladimir Putin during the war. They say that China's attempts to portray itself as a neutral mediator are just a smokescreen for Putin to keep on killing. Since February, they have claimed that China has considered sending arms to Russia. Macron tried a new approach on Thursday in Beijing, when he told Xi, "I'm sure I can rely on you to get Russia to come to its senses, and bring everyone back to the negotiating tables." Von der Leyen is more critical of China than Macron, but appears to be willing to give Xi a second chance. Macron also brought 50 French executives to Beijing to strengthen commercial ties. Tara Varma is a visiting fellow on foreign policy from France at the Brookings Institution, Washington. She said that there was a need for a European position on China which went beyond the transatlantic relationship. She said that the trip was to engage China for a first time in many years. It was an opportunity to restart the dialogue. Macron's trip to China in 2019 was his first since before the pandemic. In November, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Beijing with a group of business executives. He urged Xi, who then issued a joint declaration opposing the threat or use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine. However, the statement failed to identify Russia as the aggressor. Some European analysts criticized the leaders' decision to bring business delegations. They said that this sent the wrong message, especially regarding China's support for Russia. Janka Oertel of the European Council on Foreign Relations' Asia program wrote on Twitter that China was correct in assuming that supporting Russia does not "generally impair improved economic relationships" with Europe. She said that if European leaders traveled to Beijing without a delegation of businessmen, it would have "sent a strong, surprising & unmistakable signal to Beijing" that Ukraine is the top priority, and there's "no more business as usual." Business must wait." She said that European leaders have "not even begun" their efforts to influence Beijing's direction. She said that last Friday, Pedro Sanchez, the Spanish Prime Minister, met with Xi at his Beijing office and urged him, as Xi had avoided doing, to speak with Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine. Von der Leyen said that Europe may soon adopt a tougher stance on China. This could include limiting trade if China persists in its aggressive behavior on commercial and security issues. She said in a major speech last week that the European Union could cancel a 2020 trade agreement it had reached with China as part of its "economic derisking." This would align Europe's views with those in the United States where, despite any positive remarks about the robust trade relations with China, which is the second largest economy in the world, they are overshadowed by concerns about security. The Biden administration has encouraged European governments to adopt more protective measures for critical technologies. In January, the Biden administration got the Netherlands' commitment to limit the sale of certain semiconductor manufacturing equipment to China. Von der Leyen says that some European officials balked at these efforts. She said that it was clear that Europe-China relations had become more distant in recent years. We have been observing a deliberate hardening in China's strategic posture.

Xi's toleration of Russian atrocities against Ukraine has shifted European views. Von der Leyen referred in her speech at the end of her speech to the parting remarks Xi had made to Putin outside the Kremlin.


Last month, I said: "Right Now there are changes that we haven't experienced in 100 years." We are driving the changes together.

Other incidents have brought European leaders to the U.S. line on China. China's economic sanctions against Lithuania came after Lithuania allowed Taiwan to establish a representative office at Vilnius, its capital, in 2021. The European Union announced last month a temporary agreement that would impose trade sanctions on any country who tries to coerce Europe financially. Taiwan is not as important in China's relations as it is for the United States. The United States has supported Taiwan for decades, and regularly sends it weapons. Von der Leyen only mentioned Taiwan briefly in her speech. This has become a major topic of conversation for U.S. politicians and officials, and Biden raises it in every phone call with Xi. Taiwan is the most important flashpoint between the U.S. and China, according to U.S. officials. A conflict over the island could lead to a global crisis with more consequences than Russia's invasion in Ukraine. Washington is constantly debating Xi and his intentions regarding Taiwan, as well as how to prevent a Chinese invasion. Gen. Mark Milley of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Defense One, a news website, last week, that war between China and Taiwan was not imminent or likely, but that "the rhetoric can overheat an environment." Biden has stated four times that if China attacked Taiwan, the U.S. Military would defend it. McCarthy's Wednesday meeting with Tsai in California, and Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan in 2022, are both examples of how lawmakers from both parties show their support for Taiwan. European officials rarely take such actions, but they may become more frequent as attitudes towards China change and U.S. officials encourage Europe to be more involved. Bettina Watzinger, Germany's education minister, was the first German cabinet official to visit Taiwan since 26 years.

The U.S. has been able to convince a few European Allies to join in military declarations and actions on Taiwan. In recent years, Britain and France sent warships across the Taiwan Strait to follow a practice that the U.S. Navy has adopted. In September,


It held its first meeting solely dedicated to Taiwan and has officially described China as a threat. Since 2021, the Group of Seven nations has released statements calling for "peace and security across the Taiwan Strait."

Evan Medeiros was a Georgetown University Professor and former senior Asia director at the National Security Council under the Obama Administration. He said, "I am surprised by how much European countries focused on Taiwan and supported it in recent years." Medeiros noted that there is a historical parallel between the Taiwan issue and the European dilemma, which could help make it more relevant to European officials. He said that the Taiwan issue had become militarized over the past few years, as the PLA, or the Chinese military, has grown more powerful and the U.S. and China are now a strategic rivalry. "The Taiwan problem is fast becoming what the German question was during the Cold War."

Some American foreign policy experts are skeptical about whether European nations will provide robust military support to America in a conflict with Taiwan, or if they would be willing to impose severe economic sanctions against China. Elbridge Colby is a senior


Officials in the Trump Administration said that U.S. officials shouldn't be surprised by the fact that European leaders were in Beijing promoting commercial relations this week.

He said: "The Europeans have made it clear that they are not prepared to wage an economic war against China." "I believe the administration believes that Europeans will have our back in case of conflict, but this won't be the case." He said the United States must focus on strengthening its military in order to deter a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan, and also bolstering the capabilities of the allies of the region, including Japan and Australia.

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