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Gap between EU and US May Lie in China's Interests (Zhao Yongsheng)

Gap between EU and US May Lie in China's Interests (Zhao Yongsheng)

Author:Zhao Yongsheng From:《Watching America》 Update:2017-08-21 13:43:59

The reason America spies on its 'die-hard' ally is to get the EU's high-end technological intelligence to obtain a competitive advantage for U.S. companies

As the Snowden affair continues to ferment, the European press has disclosed that the National Security Agency conducted surveillance on many of its allies, including EU countries. What impact on U.S.-EU relations does this surveillance have? The author thinks that America has angered the EU, the sleeping tiger.

As world trade tends to be more integrated, the free trade agreement has become an important leverage tool for policymakers trying to push forward their national economies by promoting external trade. This is especially true of the U.S. and EU, the biggest economies of the world, who are respectively facing the recent recovery from the U.S. debt crisis and the unending European debt crisis. The “friction” between America and the EU will undoubtedly exert some negative effects on the ongoing negotiations over the U.S.-EU free trade agreement. The European Commission and countries such as Germany and France have already announced that the talks will be held as scheduled; however, both parties will also hold workshops discussing the information regarding the intelligence work of the U.S. European Commissioner Viviane Reding said bluntly, “If our partners are suspected of eavesdropping on European delegates' offices … we have no way to negotiate.” According to the European and U.S. press, this indicates that the talks will not be smooth.

Under such a circumstance, China should seize the opportunity by “cozying up to” Europe, which will facilitate the establishment of the new world order, dominated by China, the U.S. and the EU. Although European countries have always been the most reliable allies of America since World War I, the Europeans have never felt comfortable being the “supporting actors” on the international stage. Except for Germany, France, Spain and Italy, the rest of the European continent is filled with small states, which is why they could only unite to survive and balance the two poles: America and the USSR. However, as the formation of the post-Cold War unipolarity featuring the U.S. is complete, China and the EU naturally would want to become the new pole. In this sense, China and Europe have a lot in common.

If this incident is to bring any good to China, it has to be the fact that China has a bigger chance of winning in the free trade negotiation. As a matter of fact, in peaceful times, spying and surveillance are mostly for the sake of obtaining adversaries' economic information. The reason America spies on its “die-hard” ally is to get the EU's high-end technological intelligence and core infuriation in bulk to obtain a competitive advantage for U.S. companies with economic interests. It happens that there is a similar case, where China is also striving to open the door to European trade. It signed free trade agreements with Iceland and Switzerland successively, hoping that these two non-EU members could have a “catfish” effect on member states. Therefore, subject to the condition that the free trade talks between America and the EU are likely to be affected, China needs to speed up its attempts to be on more intimate terms with the EU.

After all, spying and surveillance are popular means in Western countries, and the type of die-hard relationship between America and the EU is not built in one day. The “trivial” is perfectly understood by both. European politicians' constant declarations of their stances are nothing but them making use of the subject to elaborate their own ideas and give themselves greater popularity. Anyway, China should use this opportunity and make America restrain its investigation into Huawei and Zhongxing. This will also accelerate the process of the China-EU free trade talks and to some extent strengthen political trust between China and the EU, realizing a win-win situation based on observable interests by making use of the uneven EU-U.S. talks.

The author is Zhao Yongsheng, vice chairman of the Paris-based China-France Association of Lawyers and Economists and a visiting scholar with the Institute of European Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

(Contact Zhao Yongsheng:jacques.zhao@163.com

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