Bumbling around EU-China Ties

“The bitter spat between Europe and China over Tibet is now officially over.” From the Straits Times:

France–singled out by China as the chief instigator of the dispute–dispatched three top officials to Beijing to make amends. The president of the European Union Commission, who was also in Beijing at the weekend, reiterated Europe’s support for China’s territorial integrity…

And yet, despite the public smiles, the clash between China and Europe has left deep scars on both sides. For it provided a painful reminder of a stark fact: Despite booming economic links, the two sides simply do not understand each other. Both China and Europe committed fundamental errors of judgment which transformed a relatively minor difference into a very bruising confrontation…

The lessons from this episode are obvious. Beijing’s diplomats are resourceful and more than capable of putting forward reasonable arguments. But when an unexpected crisis erupts inside China, these diplomats are invariably pushed aside. Harder men, with no sensitivity for world public opinion and an obsession with “fighting splittism” or “crushing enemies”, come to the fore instead.


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