This is the question that could ultimately destroy EU-US unity — RT World News

Western Europeans widely see China as an opportunity, but Washington sees it as a threat. This has major geopolitical consequences

Chinese President Xi Jinping is traveling to Europe for the first time in five years. His choice of capitals is calibrated. First was Paris, where French President Emmanuel Macron – who claims political leadership of the western side of the continent – was joined by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. She was with Macron in Beijing last year. Then there are Budapest and Belgrade, two European countries (one in the EU, one outside the EU) that are showing an increasing willingness to cooperate with Beijing.

China's relations with Western Europe are one of the most interesting issues in contemporary world politics. Their view of the European Union differs from that of Russia. Moscow has long ago come to the conclusion that the Old World has completely abandoned its independent foreign policy course by joining the United States. It seems that Brussels, Berlin, Paris, Helsinki and others are not deterred by the consequences that may result from their prosperity and influence. However, Beijing believes that the EU will not give up its independence, even if its dependence on the American strategy increases. In other words, China believes that a specific and active policy would create a series of incentives for Western Europe to slow their drift toward the United States. Thus, it will limit the bloc's participation in a possible future military and political confrontation between Washington and Beijing.

The research question, as they say in academic papers, is clear: whether “The Collective West” A strong and sustainable union, or is the unity achieved so far more fragile, masking a growing divergence of interests?

The United States views China as a strategic competitor for decades to come. At the same time, the European Union does not see it as a direct threat to itself, although it is concerned about Beijing's growing power, including in the European region. The United States views Russia as a direct threat to European stability, but it does not pose a serious threat to itself. But of course, Western Europe is deeply afraid of Russia, and this fear is growing, giving rise to speculation about a variety of scenarios. At the same time, the United States needs Western Europe to implement its strategy to contain China.

First, from an economic and technological perspective, the EU should not develop cooperation with China in areas where the United States wants to constrain Beijing. At the same time, the European Union needs the United States to be able to contain Russia in a military and military-technical sense. There are discussions about building the EU's own capacity, but firstly, they are somewhat abstract, and secondly, the process will take years. There is already an awareness of Western Europe's over-dependence on America, but there is no way to solve the problem, and this prompts the Old World to try to keep Washington as close to itself as possible.

China is guided by the logic of economic pragmatism – why should the EU reduce its capabilities? In fact, the bloc has dominated the world over the past three or four decades, and China has been the main beneficiary of it, transforming itself from a poor and backward country into a competitor for world domination. But now, the logic of strategic competition has begun to come to the fore, and market profits have become a casualty.

But China has its own reasons. From Beijing's point of view, the general trend of global development is towards economic interdependence and the need for everyone to expand their development space. The renaissance of blocs, reminiscent of the Cold War, is not a prototype for the future of politics, but rather a return to the past, an act of the twentieth century. In fact, the two rivals at the time (Washington and Moscow) were trying to end a match that did not end with an official result in the early 1980s and 1990s. China is very afraid of being drawn into this process, because it believes, not unreasonably, that the side that avoids costly conflicts (in every sense of the word) will benefit the most.

Hence China's cautious position on the Ukrainian issue. Beijing strongly avoids criticizing Russia and expresses its understanding of the reasons that prompted the military operation. But it does not express direct support and is dealing with extreme caution so as not to give Washington an excuse to impose sanctions on its companies for violating the Western embargo on Russia. We should not expect a different position from Beijing, and it is possible that the rhetoric around the need for a peaceful end to the conflict will intensify. A sure indicator is the conference on Ukraine (initiated by Kiev) which will be held in Switzerland next month. The presence or absence of Chinese will give it a different tone. In fact, this is clearly what the organizers themselves think.

It remains to be seen whether China will be able to weather the current storms to gain more weight on the global stage. The same is true for the United States, although much will depend on the results of the November elections. Putin and Xi Jinping will have a lot to discuss when they meet, it seems, next week.

This article was first published by Rossiyskaya Gazeta Newspaper, translated and edited by the RT team

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