June 3, 2009
The op-ed of John Fox and François Godement in the Financial Times of 19 May urges Europe to stop “pandering to China” but offers no effective advice as what then to do.
They argue that “Europe’s engagement-at-all-costs approach over the last two decades has given China access to all the economic and other benefits of cooperation with Europe while getting very little in return”.
This is too narrow a viewpoint to be taken. China’s economic success has lifted 300 million people out of poverty (a central EU development aim), underpinned stability in a dangerous region, contributed to reducing European consumer costs, increased the competitiveness of some of our industrial sectors and enabled many of our companies to make good profits in China. Whatever the concerns about low cost imports, it must be remembered that this is not an EU-China problem but an EU-Asia one.
China is not being fair over market access, particularly in services, but what “incentives and threats” will be effective “to strike bargains”? The authors offer no answers.
I do agree that China should be granted market economy status in return for greater access to the Chinese market, but this must be a precise and deliverable set of commitments. But what does the EU do if MES is granted and the Chinese commitments are not implemented?
The EU27 will not agree to lift the arms embargo in return for China supporting stronger sanctions against Iran. The US will in any case not agree and the threat to restrict technology transfer to Europe is a real one. The embargo is, of course, merely symbolic and would be accompanied by a tougher EU arms export code than the existing one.
Of course the EU should have a single policy on the Dalai Lama but the egotism of Member State leaders and the competition between them prevents a single external policy and voice emerging o this or any other issue.
Author : Stanley Crossick