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EU needs more partners to safeguard globalization

By Fu Jing | China Daily | Updated: 2018-05-23 07:55

Given the uncertainties, concerns, mistrust and fears prevailing across the world, mainly because of the Trump administration's unstable foreign policy, politicians in the European Union may not be capable of protecting globalization, let alone promoting it. This fear was evident in the speech European Council President Donald Tusk made at the European Union-West Balkans Summit last week, in which he said some major global players were no longer the friends of the EU.

But before elaborating on the cross-Atlantic partnership, Tusk said "the rise of China" and "the aggressive stance of Russia" were the EU's traditional political challenges. Such claims, rather beliefs, are baseless, but they could prompt EU politicians to keep other global players at arm's length in regional and international affairs.

More important, Tusk said the United States administration and President Donald Trump practiced a policy of "capricious assertiveness". He was even quoted as saying that looking at the latest decisions of Trump, "many could even think that 'with friends like that who needs enemies'." Tusk went on to say that Europe should be grateful to Trump "because thanks to him we have got rid of all illusions."

In all probability, this is the first time in the history of EU-US alliance that Brussels has criticized Washington using such strong language. Washington seems hell-bent on leading the world to nowhere, and Brussels is trying to stop it from doing so, while Beijing is urging Washington to correct its mistakes.

For global players, however, strategic options matter more than the criticisms. What Tusk has essentially proposed is to "unite" the EU and "act on our own" to meet the challenge of the US. Shaping an EU consensus in dealing with global challenges and protecting globalization is critical. But that would not be enough.

The EU should fulfill its responsibilities as one of the major global players, and the international community needs to take serious and immediate actions to protect free and fair global trade.

China has already set an example in this regard by actively engaging regional powers such as India, Japan and the Republic of Korea in economic and strategic talks to promote globalization and free trade. This is not surprising, though, because China has always believed in making friends to contribute to global peace and prosperity.

But the EU has not always been consistent in its partnerships with other global players. It has largely followed in the footsteps of the US until Trump became the US president last year. The EU should move beyond its own interests and act within a global framework of coordination and cooperation.

The EU's recent strategy of dealing with China is different from the political consensus the two sides reached in 2014 to jointly pursue peace, growth, reform and civilization. Besides, the fact that some EU politicians still consider China a threat is groundless. In fact, apart from boosting common economic interdependency, China and the EU have worked together to fight climate change and finalize the Iran nuclear deal, from which Trump withdrew the US recently. If the EU still sees China's rise as a challenge, its cooperation with China may not be as smooth as it should be.

The bond across the Atlantic is still close despite Trump's miscalculation. The EU should make efforts on its part to strengthen it. A stronger cross-Atlantic alliance is also in the interests of China.

The world is at a historically critical moment. Leaders, especially those of the major players, must shoulder their responsibilities as statesmen to avoid the escalation of tensions that would lead to a trade war and even conflict.

The author is deputy chief of China Daily European Bureau.

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