European foreign policy: A new realism on China

As Chinese President Xi Jinping lands in Europe for a visit, EU leaders will sit down for a summit on how to deal with China

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi being welcomed by Ms Federica Mogherini, the European Union's foreign policy chief, ahead of a meeting in Brussels on Monday. Mr Wang said earlier this month that relations between China and Europe were in good shape,
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi being welcomed by Ms Federica Mogherini, the European Union's foreign policy chief, ahead of a meeting in Brussels on Monday. Mr Wang said earlier this month that relations between China and Europe were in good shape, with "far more areas where we agree than disagree".PHOTO: REUTERS

The last time European Union leaders held strategy talks on China was just after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. The 12 heads of state and government imposed sanctions, including an arms embargo, over what they called the "brutal repression" by the Chinese government.

Almost 30 years later, the European Council will use a summit this week to focus once more on China - and decide whether it is time to get tough again. Mounting concerns over Chinese industrial policy, cyber security and trade wars have all combined to put Beijing firmly back on the European agenda.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2019, with the headline 'European foreign policy: A new realism on China'. Subscribe