China’s pursuit of trade partnerships is at odds with its combative diplomacy as it seeks to respond to the West’s Indo-Pacific strategy. Its best bet is to inject realism into its foreign policy, stop threatening with military power, and offer help without demanding recognition.
The combination of Covid-19 and the trade war is pushing China’s leaders to focus on the domestic economy rather than filling the void left by a retreating United States. Stabilising rising unemployment and eradicating absolute poverty appear to be the government’s top priorities.
The Chinese government must let medical experts take centre stage and resist the urge to push a narrative which extols the virtues of the individual leader and praises draconian measures.
Xi’s recent statements on sweeping reforms with ‘top-level design’ from the party indicate an indecisive economic approach China can’t afford now.
The EU must overcome its Sinophobia while China must approach investments in Europe with less Sinocentrism if the two parties are to work together.
Both sides have good reasons to want closer engagement in trade and investment, even though they remain poles apart politically. British Prime Minister Theresa May should grasp the opportunities on her visit to China this month.