EU witnessing acceleration of tensions with China: von der Leyen

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the EU is witnessing the acceleration of tensions with China. She claims that Chinese President Xi Jinping is continuing to reinforce his very assertive and autonomous course.

EU warned Germany against approving Chinese investment in Hamburg port

The European Commission warned the German government last spring not to approve an investment by China's Cosco into Hamburg's port.

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“China is continuing a mission to establish its dominance in East Asia and its influence globally. And at the same time, we have been witnessing, the so-called agreement on ‘no limits’ partnership between Russia and China right before the invasion in Ukraine, so these developments will affect the EU-China relationship,” von der Leyen said.

She pointed out that the EU needs to rid itself of dependency on fossil fuels from Russia, and the same applies to dependency on technologies and raw materials from China.

“Therefore the priorities here are to reinforce our own capacities and, of course, also to diversify the supply of raw materials towards reliable, trustworthy suppliers,” von der Leyen said.

Von der Leyen said the 27-member bloc's relationship with China had been affected after the February signing by Moscow and Beijing of an agreement that expressed the two countries' resolve for working together, in building a new international order based on their particular view of human rights and democracy.

Dubbed “no limits friendship” - the document signed on the eve of Russia's invasion of Ukraine indicates Russia and China will back each other over stand-offs on Ukraine and Taiwan, with the promise of collaborating more than has been up to this point against the West.

European Council President Charles Michel also rejected the idea of systematic confrontation with China, adding that China and the EU needed to work together on issues such as health and climate change.

The EU has regarded China as a partner since 2019, an economic competitor and a systemic rival. The EU's foreign policy service reads in a paper prepared for this week's leaders' summit that Beijing should now be seen primarily as a competitor that is promoting "an alternative vision of the world order".

Scholz to visit to China in November

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's announced he will travel to China with a delegation of business leaders, though declined to confirm whether he would travel alongside French President Emmanuel Macron. The trip is planned for the start of November.

“But this is a trip, an inaugural visit that I am making there. Before the German-Chinese government consultations, it was important that this should happen once,” Scholz said.

The trip comes at a time when Berlin is reviewing its trade relationship with Beijing, and Scholz's coalition is debating whether it should allow Chinese shipping giant Cosco to invest in Germany's largest seaport in the northern city of Hamburg.

“It's not about selling the port, as in Seebruecke or Piraeus. At most, it's about a share, it's about a share in one terminal, as is the case in some Western European ports, and it's really only about one of many terminals of a very large port,” Scholz said.

He added that EU leaders now have a detailed framework for reducing energy prices, and agreed on no country being outvoted on energy policy.