Japanese media exposed the content of the EU’s "First Indo-Pacific Strategy": China is the center of concern and calls for "multi-faceted contact" with Beijing

2021-09-15: [Original Article Link].

[Global Times Special Correspondent in Germany Aoki Wang Yi] The European Commission will release its first "Indo-Pacific Strategy" document this week. Some media exposed the contents of the file in advance. "Nikkei Asia" reported on the 14th that China is the center of EU concerns. The document called for "multi-faceted contacts" with Beijing and restrained direct criticism of China. The document also said that the EU will seek to establish new digital partnerships with Japan, South Korea and Singapore, and establish closer trade and investment relations with Taiwan. Several German media commented on the document, with some calling it "the EU's anti-China strategy" and some saying it "sends a vague signal to China". According to the "Voice of Germany" report, the EU is scheduled to propose a new strategy for the Indo-Pacific region written by the EU's high representative for foreign and security policy Borelli on the 14th, but the specific date of publication may also change. The document is 19 pages, and its publication needs to be approved by all 27 foreign ministers of the European Union. "Nikkei Asia" reported on the 14th that the draft document it saw showed that due to concerns about China, the EU hopes to strengthen cooperation with Asian partners in new technologies and trade. The EU wants to establish trade and investment ties with partners without an agreement, such as Taiwan. However, the draft does not propose any bilateral investment agreements. On China, the draft "restrained direct criticism" but said "democratic principles and human rights are threatened by the region's dictatorship, endangering regional stability". The German "Business Daily" stated that the EU document stated that it would retain sanctions against "individuals, organizations and institutions that commit serious violations of human rights, the future of the China-EU investment agreement depends on" The broader political context of EU-China relations ". "Nikkei Asia" stated that the document is much less involved at the military level. "This reflects the EU's limited joint military capabilities, it also reflects that it will continue to rely on US military power in large-scale operations". It is worth noting that the EU stated in the document that it will assess whether to delineate the Indo-Pacific "maritime interest zone" and patrol these areas with regional partners. In the context of increasingly fierce competition between China and the United States, the EU has repeatedly expressed its willingness to participate in Indo-Tse affairs. April 19 this year, the Council of Foreign Ministers of the European Union issued EU Indo-Pacific cooperation strategy report, elaborate upon the Union's participation in the Indo-Pacific region for the background, considerations, path and vision, highlight the strengthening of practical cooperation and military expansion in the Indo-Pacific region. But for the latest documents to be released, the European media have mixed reviews. The German "Economic Weekly" published an article on the 14th that the European Union proposed "to seek new digital partnerships with Japan, South Korea and Singapore", which made these three countries "caught off guard". These countries have had contacts with Brussels, but it is unclear what the EU's specific plans are. EU insiders commented that "this is too amateur". The comment said that the same problem also appeared in the EU document on the fight against the Covid epidemic. Asian countries heavily affected by the outbreak expressed disappointment that the EU has so far provided them with so few doses of vaccine. The article also stated that EU diplomats have been emphasizing that the Indo-China strategy "is not an anti-China initiative" for several months, and specifically mentioned cooperation with China, but the new document clearly states that China poses risks and threats. "The vague signal sent to China," the German "Frankfurt Report" said on the 14th that the EU said that the Indo-Tan strategy document is not aimed at China, but the content is aimed at China, which seems ambiguous. A senior EU official said: "We don't want to openly confront, but at the same time make it clear that we are not letting China go." The report also said that when the EU Foreign Ministers' Council first proposed the Indo-China strategic plan in April, Beijing's response was harsh but moderate. When it is no longer just a plan, but is actually implemented, the Chinese side's response remains to be seen. How the EU countries will implement this "Indo-China Strategy" document is not yet known. However, before its release of the document, the European Association for Foreign Relations, a well-known European think tank, published its analysis report on the views of experts and officials of the 27 EU member states on the Indo-China strategy on the 13th. The report shows that despite the increasing economic and political importance of the Indo-Pacific region, many EU Member States are "indifferent" to the region ". To date, EU Member States have not agreed on the geographical definition of the Indo-Pacific region or the meaning of the Indo-Pacific concept. According to the report, the questionnaire survey shows that the 10 EU member countries regard the Indo-Pacific strategy as a way to deal with China, and it is also a way for Europe to take advantage of the new economy and other opportunities. But for 13 countries, the concept of Indo-Pacific strategy is only an opportunity to pursue economic interests, and China's problem is not prominent. "Only Latvian politicians seem to regard the Indo-China policy escalation as a real anti-China tool." The authors of the report pointed out that this difference reflects the differences between EU Member States in considering the Indo-Pacific issue from a strategic or economic perspective. The report also pointed out that the 12 EU member states to single out some islands and reefs of China's listed in the Indo-Pacific region of the three key partners for 9 states considered that, strengthening economic exchanges with the Indo-Pacific region is not only a part of a diversification strategy, but also a tool against China. On the 14th, the French newspaper Le Monde published an exclusive interview with Borelli. When talking about "Washington wants to drag Europeans into confrontation with China", Borelli replied: "The relationship with China is and will inevitably be complicated. For the EU, China is an important economic partner, but it is also an institutional opponent, because it represents a system that is completely different from ours. And China is a technological competitor, which will be decisive in the future."

Note: This is auto-translated version of an article meant for Chinese audience. A mature and nuanced reading is suggested.