Yesterday, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, delivered a speech on the relationship between the EU and China. She suggested that the EU should use its current trade tools more frequently, such as export controls, and establish a clear boundary on whether exports are beneficial to its security interests when dual-use purposes cannot be ruled out or when human rights are involved.
Von der Leyen also highlighted that China has intensified its economic and trade coercion policies, citing examples of retaliatory actions against Lithuania for opening a Taiwan office in Vilnius and imposing sanctions on MPEs, officials, and academic institutions for expressing their opinions on China’s actions.

“I believe it is neither viable – nor in Europe’s interest – to decouple from China. Our relations are not black or white – and our response cannot be either. This is why we need to focus on de-risk – not de-couple.”

“We can expect to see a greater focus on security – whether military, tech or economic. All companies in China, for example, are already obliged by law to assist state intelligence-gathering operations and to keep it secret. We can also expect even stricter economic control measures as part of a strengthening of the Chinese Communist Party’s steering of the economy through its institutions and leaders. And we can expect to see a clear path and push to make China less dependent on the world and the world more dependent on China. Or as President Xi put it bluntly a few years ago: ‘China must tighten international production chains’ dependence on China to form a powerful countermeasure and deterrent capability’.”


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