EU advised to consider peaceful economic cooperation with China

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European Union

The European Union (EU) should pursue peaceful economic cooperation with China and avoid decoupling from the world’s second largest economy, a Hungarian expert told Xinhua in an interview.

Decoupling from China would be a “mistake” that would harm both the EU and China, Zoltan Kiszelly, director of the Center of Political Analyses at Hungary’s Szazadveg Institute, said. China is one of the EU’s largest trading partners, and bilateral trade has grown rapidly in recent years.

“As China is the biggest single market for the EU, it should appreciate this partner and should not repeat the mistake of ill-considered and self-harming sanctions on Russia,” Kiszelly said.

Kiszelly’s comments come amid growing tensions between the EU and China. The EU has been criticizing China’s economic practices, talking of “decoupling” or “de-risking,” and has decided to launch an anti-subsidy probe into Chinese-made electric vehicles.

Despite these tensions, Kiszelly said that the EU should continue to engage with China. “Cooperation between the EU and China has made these two poles of the world economy one another’s biggest trading partners,” Kiszelly said, reflecting on the 20th anniversary of the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership.

A recent survey conducted by Hungary’s Szazadveg Foundation revealed that 48 percent of Europeans favored maintaining economic and trade relations with China, Kiszelly said.

He said that this opinion resonated with a significant majority across two-thirds of the European countries surveyed, advocating for peaceful economic cooperation with China rather than harsher measures.

The survey also found that Hungarians are more likely than Europeans in general to view China favorably.

Hungary has close economic ties with China and has been a vocal supporter of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.

Regarding Hungary’s stance on cooperation with China, Kiszelly said Prime Minister Viktor Orban is endorsing a policy of connectivity, promoting mutually beneficial economic and manufacturing partnerships between European and Chinese companies.

The collaboration between Germany’s high-end car manufacturers and Chinese car suppliers, both present in Hungary, exemplifies that China and the EU companies benefit from such alliances, he said.

The upcoming EU-China Summit, the first face-to-face meeting between the two sides’ leaders in four years, is a “good opportunity to build back trust and to clear up misunderstandings,” Kiszelly said.

Future cooperation between China and the EU can be strengthened in the high value-added domains, such as telecommunications, digital equipment, and the automotive industry, he said, adding that both sides had “common interests” in fighting climate change.

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