Global Affairs

European powers grow wary of China embrace

China's rise is not going down well in parts of Western Europe. Germany, France and Britain have recently sounded warnings about the threat it poses on issues of security, in addition to longstanding complaints about a lack of reciprocity in matters of trade and investment.

LONDON • Of all European nations, Germany can claim to have a truly special relationship with China. It is Beijing's largest single European trading partner. And while the European Union as a whole records huge deficits with China which last year alone amounted to a whopping €177 billion (S$288 billion), Germany regularly enjoys a substantial surplus. So, if there is one country eager not to offend China, Germany should be that one.

But the opposite appears to be true. For in speech delivered recently at a conference which brought together Europe's top leaders and strategic experts, Germany Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel singled out China not as an economic partner, but as a security concern.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 26, 2018, with the headline 'European powers grow wary of China embrace'. Print Edition | Subscribe