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Von der Leyen Wants To ‘De-Risk’ EU on China since Xi Met with Putin

April 2, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said in a March 30 address to a meeting cosponsored by the Mercator Institute for China Studies (Merics) and the European Policy Centre, that the European Union plans to reassess and “de-risk” relations with China, making Beijing’s position on the Russia-Ukraine conflict a crucial part of their future relations. “How China continues to interact with Putin’s war will be a determining factor for EU-China relations going forward,” von der Leyen tried to threaten. She also called for “bolder” EU approaches to China, saying that China has become “more repressive at home and more assertive abroad.”

Von der Leyen’s speech prompted a strong reaction from the Chinese government. Wang Lutong, director general for European Affairs at the Chinese Foreign Ministry, tweeted on March 31: “The EU side talks a lot about de-risking recently. If there is any risk, it is the risk of linking trade with ideology and national security and creating bloc confrontation. China is ready to work with the EU side to reject decoupling and promote global prosperity.”

(Seeing how well the EU and NATO nations have “de-risked” their banking systems over the past decade or so while trying hard to avoid the threat of productive economic investment, the EU may have equal success with “de-risking” from a very productive China.)

Von der Leyen reportedly said that for the EU, “decoupling” from China was not advisable, being “neither viable nor in Europe’s interest, but relations should be “stress-tested” and “de-risked” both politically and economically. She emphasized the March 21-22 summit of President Xi Jinping with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow as, in itself, a great concern. She claimed that they wanted to drive “geopolitical change” around the world, as shown in Xi’s parting comment to Putin. But she quoted Xi’s actual comment—“Right now, there are changes, the likes of which we haven’t seen for 100 years. And we are the ones driving these changes together”—in which there was nothing “geopolitical.”

Lying further, von der Leyen said the Chinese Communist Party’s “clear goal is a systemic change of the international order, with China at its center. We have seen the show of friendship in Moscow which says a thousand words about this new vision for the international order.”

RT reports von der Leyen as having “hinted that the EU might abandon the pursuit of a major trade deal with China, which was agreed upon in 2020 but stalled by the European Parliament,” referring to her assessment, beginning with

“we have to recognize that the world and China have changed significantly in the last three years—and we need to reassess the CAI [Comprehensive Agreement on Investment] in light of our wider China strategy. ... This is why—after de-risking through diplomacy—the second strand of our future China strategy must be economic de-risking. The starting point for this is having a clear-eyed picture on what the risks are. That means recognizing how China’s economic and security ambitions have shifted. But it also means taking a critical look at our own resilience and dependencies, in particular within our industrial and defense base.”

On April 5 von der Leyen, who de-risks without de-coupling, will travel to China, where she will join French President Emmanuel Macron in a threesome summit with President Xi Jinping. Macron, advice to “de-risk” aside, is heading a major business delegation to Beijing on April 4.

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