Though EU countries won’t go as far as the U.S. in decoupling from China, they’re sending a strong message.
China’s diplomats were already having a terrible year in Europe, but they just managed to make it even worse. At this rate, Chinese President Xi Jinping may achieve the dubious feat of alienating the Europeans faster and further than even U.S. President Donald Trump is doing.
Xi’s overarching objective in the region is to prevent the European Union and the U.S. from ganging up against China. He was hoping for a breakthrough at a summit with EU leaders scheduled for Sept. 14. Originally slated to take place in Leipzig, it’ll be a video conference instead, owing to the pandemic. But the stakes are high. So Xi this past week dispatched his foreign minister, Wang Yi, to five European countries for some preparatory sweet talk. Talk there was; it just wasn’t sweet.
Wang showed up hoping to hear the softer tones to which he’s accustomed from Europeans, who remain more eager than the Americans to keep trading and doing business with China. Instead, he was surprised at the amount of resistance he was picking up underneath the formal niceties.