China’s Quest for Cooperation with Europe

China imposes stricter controls on trade-economic transactions to Russia due to both political and trade concerns.
Regardless of the changes at the global level, it is possible to say that restraint, common sense and dialogue will prevail in Europe-China relations in the coming period.
Beijing claims that Europe has made polarizing moves such as “de-risking” and “secondary sanctions” under the influence of the US.


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It has been announced that Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit France at the beginning of May 2024 and meet with his counterpart Emmanuel Macron.[1] This will be Xi’s first trip to Europe since the pandemic. Recently, the European Union (EU) and the United States of America (USA) have frequently brought up secondary sanctions against Beijing due to China’s continued economic and military ties with Russia. In fact, in mid-February, the EU imposed sanctions on companies from India and China for collaborating with Russia for the first time.[2] Therefore, China imposes stricter controls on trade-economic transactions to Russia due to both political and commercial concerns.

In order to mitigate these risks, China is making efforts to improve cooperation with Europe. In other words, Beijing is making great efforts to correct “misunderstandings” in its relations with Europe, to reduce and, if possible, to eliminate its transatlantic influence. Xi’s visit to Paris corresponds to the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations. In these talks, it is expected that difficult issues such as the content of China-Russia relations, the end of the war in Ukraine and the influence of the US on Europe will be raised.

China is keen to put its relations with Europe, which have been damaged by its continued ties with Russia, back on track. In addition, China is conducting shuttle diplomacy between Europe and Russia to end the war in Ukraine and start peace talks in Switzerland. In this context, we can argue that China acts as a mediator to bring both Europe and Russia to the table of peace negotiations.

In recent months, Beijing has claimed that Europe has made polarizing moves such as “de-risking” and “secondary sanctions” under the influence of the United States. As a matter of fact, the EU’s moves to blacklist Chinese companies due to their ties to Russia are very similar to the practices of the US in the trade war against China. Chinese telecommunications companies, a fast-growing IT sector, and a huge electric vehicle industry are leading Europe to enter a new trade war with China. Beijing, on the other hand, is extremely keen to ensure that European investors remain in the Chinese market. With Washington’s warnings and guidance, Europe is preparing to start a trade war against China; Beijing has repeatedly warned Europe about the risks of such a move.

In this process, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson of Sweden, which has just joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), said in a statement that it would be wise for Europe to show the US that it will be tougher against China in return for Trump supporters helping Europe on the Ukraine front.[3] As a matter of fact, the point that the Transatlanticist wing insists on is that; “European countries should increase their defense spending and pay more attention to U.S. security concerns about China.” This point was expressed by Kristersson in the following words:[4]   

“(Part of the lesson Europe should learn is to pay attention to America’s legitimate security concerns in other parts of the world. If we want the U.S. to be tied to Europe, we need to realize that the U.S. has other concerns.”

The latest developments in US domestic politics also have an impact on Europe’s policy change regarding China. As a matter of fact, Europe is worried about Trump’s potential victory. In this case, there is a danger that Europe will be left alone in the field of defense and support for Ukraine. Due to this risk, Europe may have decided to turn to tougher policies for China in order to gain the support of the US.  

On the other hand, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in his speech at the Munich Security Conference, stated that they would not make any policy changes if Trump took office:[5]

“No matter how much the world changes, as a responsible great country, China will keep its core principles and policies consistent and stable, and serve as a solid force for stability in a turbulent world. China and Europe should avoid geopolitical and ideological distractions and work together.”

China does not want geopolitical differences at the global level to prevent close cooperation with Europe. Europe, on the other hand, is experiencing similar differences of opinion on Russia as it is on the China issue. The striking point here is the difference of opinion between France, Germany and England, which constitute the most powerful countries in Europe. These three countries have mixed views on both Russia and China.

Other European countries also do not agree on the issue of Russia and China. Now Europe aims to fight Russia and China simultaneously. In fact, this means the division of the world between the West and Russia-China, that is, polarization and a new era of Cold War. With the deepening of the US-China rivalry, European states are preparing for a “systematic confrontation” with China in the near future. 

The European Union (EU) officially considers China a “strategic partner”, an “economic competitor” and a “systemic competitor”.[6] Institutions such as the EU and the G7, which represent Western democracies, criticize Beijing on many issues in order to benefit from China’s economic potential. In this context, Western powers find it difficult to take a harmonious stance against Beijing. On the subject, European Council President Charles Michel said, “Europe has shown a very clear will to avoid being naïve towards China, but we did not want to enter into a logic of systematic confrontation with it.”[7] From this point of view, it is possible to say that regardless of the changes at the global level, restraint, common sense and dialogue will prevail in Europe-China relations in the coming period.

[1] “China’s Xi Jinping To Visit France in Early May”, Politico,, (Date of Access: 20.03.2024).

[2] “EU Agrees New Sanctions on Russia, Blacklisting Companies in Mainland China for The First Time”, Euronews,, (Date of Access: 20.03.2024).

[3] “Sweden: If You Want US To Help in Europe, Back Washington On China,”, Alliansfriheten,, (Date of Access: 20.03.2024).

[4] “Sweden’s PM: Europe Needs To Talk China, Defense Spending To Keep US Support On Ukraine”, Politico,, (Date of Access: 20.03.2024).  

[5] “Europe Is Nervous About A Potential Trump Win. China Sees An Opportunity”, CNN,, (Date of Access: 20.03.2024).   

[6] “EU Not Seeking ‘Systematic Confrontation’ As Rival China Grows”, Al Jazeera,, (Date of Access: 20.03.2024).  

[7] Ibid.

Dr. Cenk TAMER
Dr. Cenk TAMER
Dr. Cenk Tamer graduated from Sakarya University, Department of International Relations in 2014. In the same year, he started his master's degree at Gazi University, Department of Middle Eastern and African Studies. In 2016, Tamer completed his master's degree with his thesis titled "Iran's Iraq Policy after 1990", started working as a Research Assistant at ANKASAM in 2017 and was accepted to Gazi University International Relations PhD Program in the same year. Tamer, whose areas of specialization are Iran, Sects, Sufism, Mahdism, Identity Politics and Asia-Pacific and who speaks English fluently, completed his PhD education at Gazi University in 2022 with his thesis titled "Identity Construction Process and Mahdism in the Islamic Republic of Iran within the Framework of Social Constructionism Theory and Securitization Approach". He is currently working as an Asia-Pacific Specialist at ANKASAM.

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