The Financial Times reports on the changing relationship between China and the EU on the eve of a summit in Brussels:
China once seemed to take the EU as an institution more seriously, largely because of its apparent potential as a counter-balance to US global hegemony.
But the world financial turmoil and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have dealt a staggering blow to the US image as an unchallenged colossus striding the world.
Moreover, the Europeans who enthusiastically embraced the notion of “balancing” the US – notably, France’s Jacques Chirac and Germany’s Gerhard Schröder – have left office and been replaced by more pro-US leaders. Meanwhile, the world economic crisis has catapulted China to even greater prominence in its own right.
Most importantly, the Chinese have figured out what Henry Kissinger, the 85-year-old US elder statesman, knew when he held office in the 1970s. Not only does the EU lack a single telephone number for foreign leaders to call when they want to speak to “Europe”, an awful lot of Europeans, including many in the political classes, do not want it to have one.