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China is the big winner of European Brexit chaos

Instead, they spoke again about the Brexit.

The fact that British lawmakers have not dated the last 33 months since the country left the EU, and disagreed on how to do so, has thrown several keys into the complicated operation of the bloc, whose leaders urgently need a unified one A number of issues have to be addressed by policy, but these are constantly derailed by the one Member State which, at least theoretically, does not want to be involved.

Next month, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will come to Brussels for a summit with European leaders before heading to Croatia for a meeting with representatives of an organization of 16 Central and Eastern European countries. It is precisely this type of grouping that could be feared to divide the wider EU.
Prior to last week's summit, the European Commission said that "China is also a co-operation partner with which the EU has a close set of objectives, a negotiating partner with which the EU must find a balance of interests, an economic competitor in search of technology Leadership and a systemic competition that promotes alternative governance models. "
China is the EU's largest trading partner, while Europe is the second largest in China after the US, with trade between the two parties averaging over daily $ 1
billion. A single policy for interaction with Beijing is a key issue for Brussels, and the EU can hardly afford to screw it up.

However, there is considerable disagreement in the bloc as to how this balance can be found, with some members, especially Germany, becoming increasingly hawkish regarding Beijing, both for economic and security reasons, while other countries are still looking for Chinese investment.

Italy and China

This zeal was seen in Rome this month when Italian leaders rolled out the red carpet for Chinese President Xi Jinping after becoming the largest European economy and the first G7 Member had signed up to his belt and street trading initiative.

Italy's participation in Xi's project is not only an economic gain for Beijing, but may also provide a key to the future use of the EU in key issues, said Lucrezia Poggetti, research fellow at the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) in Berlin.

"China is very interested in looking at EU countries separately and not as a bloc," she said. "In bilateral relations, China has the upper hand because of its enormous economic power compared to other European countries."

She pointed to a move by Greece and Hungary – both important allies of China on the continent – to reduce criticism of Beijing over its behavior in the hotly-contested South China Sea and block the 2017 Athens intervention. EU statement critical of China human rights record.

"In both cases, Greece feared to annoy the Chinese government and possibly lose access to the economic opportunities promised by Beijing, which is why it instead broke with the EU," said Poggetti. "Hungary was also politically more openly connected to China."

At a meeting in Brussels this month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Beijing strongly supports the European integration process. and strongly supports Europe in playing a more important role in international affairs.
  Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte (right) and Chinese President Xi Jinping hand over the arrival of Xi Jinping for their meeting in Villa Madama on March 23, 2019 as part of a two-day event.

Chinese Carrots

While Beijing has historically stronger links with some European countries (and weaker ones with these countries), nations that once invaded and colonized them became a recent and self-sustaining one evolving momentum has led to EU members joining forces in trade union disputes in China.

Bruno Macaes, a former he Portuguese Minister of Europe, warned this week that China is being used by both European countries as a weapon to leverage each other and to separate old and new forces.

"The problem is that the EU does not have effective mechanisms to deal with serious conflicts between Member States, and it is encouraging EU countries to call on external actors to question the status quo for them," he said.

As hostility grows over the entire European project, affecting not only the United Kingdom but also Italy, Hungary and other Member States, opportunities for China to find willing new partners are increasing.

"It's even easier for Beijing to bring a wedge between the EU and the Eurosceptic government," Poggetti said. "The EU must prepare for Italy's pushback – an influential member of the EU as the founder of the Union and the third largest economy in the Eurozone – for a common European China policy."

Brexit may be the ultimate Eurosceptic in this regard. Both European and British politicians have warned that a UK outside the EU could become a rival rather than an ally to Norway or Switzerland. Chinese investment and trade will be a key competitive area.

A successful British Brexit, supported by new trade agreements with China, could also encourage other EU countries to go their own way.

Jonathan Sullivan, a China expert at the University of Nottingham, told the "EU" The power that prevails in international trade and relations requires that they act together. "

" So, if a country wants to enter any sector of Europe, it is an effective strategy to try to promote unity or "cut off" and deal with Member States individually. "

" Beijing was out There are many difficulties in dealing with the EU in many sectors and the incentive to weaken the EU's ability to act concertedly and consistently is great. "

Outer pressure

Macaes and others have highlighted that Beijing is not the only foreign major power that wants to overcome European disunity, and US President Donald Trump has also torn economic and diplomatic carrots for European capitals ready to argue with Brussels in areas where Washington disagrees.

"Trump has tried the method, foiled Germany against the defense, longed for political prizes ahead of Poland and Britain and gave praise to the Italian coalition, "Macaes said.

"Russia is a long-standing but extremely awkward operator and China knows how to fit into these debates."

Addressing this challenge requires something that European politics has been strikingly lacking in recent years: unity.

But while outside pressure has so far fueled the split, analysts said they could also help drive the bloc together as EU member states shoulder the cost of dealing with such a powerful player as China alone begin to recognize and embrace again the original purpose of the block-wide policy.

External pressure could also help launch a much needed reform of this policy so that the EU can use all its members equally.

European leaders need only clear Brexit first. And the refugee crisis. And come through the elections to the European Parliament. And set up a plan to combat the effects of climate change. And …

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