Taiwan’s Foreign Minister warns what could happen if China is not stopped
Brussels has been warned against destabilising relations with China or face costly consequences as tensions between Beijing and the bloc reached boiling point this week. On Tuesday, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen threatened to punish “third countries” helping Russia sparking the furious reaction of Beijing, with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang warning his country “will react in necessary ways”.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Dr Helena Ivanov of the Henry Jackson Society, urged the bloc to play a “safe and well-planned game” as ramifications could be “costly” for the West.
She said: “Clearly the West and the EU specifically need to address countries that are helping Russia in any form or capacity. As the recent Henry Jackson Society report on pro-Russian sentiment in Serbia and Hungary show, there are countries across the world that are to a different degree aiding or supporting Russia.
“However, the report also shows that imposing sanctions is tricky in various ways.
“For one, they could potentially agitate and alienate the domestic audiences of the sanctioned countries – which can produce long-term problems. Second, such sanctions can also often lead to substantial destabilisation of relations with the West – which can sometimes, and in China’s case especially, be very costly for the West as well.
“In the report, we conclude that it is perhaps best to explore other options – and sometimes even consider incentives which could make cooperation with the West and cutting all ties with Russia a much better alternative.
“Whether the EU has explored and exhausted such alternative methods is yet to be seen, but in any case, it is very important for the EU to play a safe and well-planned game. Otherwise, it risks creating problems which could have both internal and external ramifications.”
With China’s top diplomat touring Europe this week, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna called on China to use its global clout to push for peace in Ukraine.
Baerbock said Europe’s stance toward China should be “not decoupling, but de-risking, because it’s about our security and freedom, too”.
Colonna urged China to use its relationship with Russia to convince the Kremlin that “Russia is in an impasse … and to return to reason.” The French minister also warned China against delivering weapons to Russia, saying “that would push things into a totally new configuration”.
Baerbock urged Beijing to explicitly name Russia as the aggressor in the war, noting that Moscow could end the conflict by withdrawing its troops.
She said: “If Ukraine stops defending itself, on the other hand, then Ukraine will cease to exist and with it, the charter of the United Nations.”
But Baerbock and Colonna also said it was time for Europe to decrease its economic and strategic dependency on China.
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Baerbock said Germany wants to work in partnership with China “everywhere it’s possible” but that it would be naive to ignore the risk of ending up in a position of reliance, including on security issues.
She said: “One needs to recognise that we are competitors and, sadly, increasingly also systemic rivals.”
Baerbock met with Chinese hours after EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also issued a thinly-veiled threat to China as she spoke from Kyiv.
She said: “We recently see a growth of highly unusual trade flows through the European Union and certain third countries. These goods then end up in Russia.”
Standing next to Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky, she did not name the countries she was referring to, but EU officials have raised concerns about certain flows of goods through China and Iran for some time.
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She said: “If we see that goods are going from the European Union to third countries and then end up in Russia, we could propose to the member states to sanction those goods.”
After meeting with Baerbock in Berlin, Qin Gang said his country has no intention of benefiting from the war in Ukraine and hopes for further discussions on a peace plan Beijing proposed earlier this year.
But he warned against EU sanctions on Beijing, adding: “China will react in necessary ways.”
He also warned Baerbock against pursuing a “de-risking” strategy, saying: “If one gets rid of China in the name of de-risking, it will become de-opportunity, de-cooperation, destabilising and de-development.”
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