More Europeans are considering China a key economic partner despite seeing limits to the relationship, according to a survey that comes as the bloc tries to find a safe way to engage with Beijing.
A plurality of those surveyed — 46% — said they viewed China as an “ally or necessary partner” compared to just 35% who saw Beijing as a “rival or adversary,” according a European Council of Foreign Relations poll of 11 European Union countries.
The majority of those surveyed (62%) said they wished to stay out of a US-China conflict over Taiwan, the self-ruled island that Beijing claims as its own. China’s military aggression toward Taipei has prompted the US to deny Beijing access to high-tech chips and deepened a chill in diplomatic ties.
While European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has tried to cool those tensions, by suggesting nations “de-risk” rather than “decouple” from China, the report showed the European public wasn’t convinced about pulling back from Beijing, the ECFR wrote.
Instead, the findings indicated that EU member states were more aligned with French President Emmanuel Macron’s vision of China as a “strategic and global partner.” The French leader earlier this year urged Europe to develop more strategic autonomy to avoid becoming “vassals”of the US over tensions with China.
The US is also looking to resume high-level communication with Beijing, despite continued tensions. Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to visit China in the coming weeks for talks with top officials, possibly including President Xi Jinping, according to people familiar with the matter.
Still, the survey showed Europeans have concerns about some of China’s economic practices. Of those polled, 65% were uncomfortable with Chinese ownership of key infrastructure, such as bridges or ports, while 59% didn’t want Beijing to buy a newspaper in their country and 52% opposed the purchase of tech companies.
A total of 16,168 adults responded to the April survey conducted in Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Sweden.
Source from: Bloomberg