Brussels (Brussels Morning) Munich Security Conference Chairman Wolfgang Ischinger slammed the EU’s China policy on Thursday, emphasising that the bloc must learn to speak as one if Brussels and Washington are to coordinate their approach to Beijing.
In an interview with Deutsche Welle, the former ambassador to the US and the UK, considered by many to be the “best-connected former German diplomat”, said relations with China were at the heart of a new era of “competition and cooperation”, as described in this year’s Munich Security Report.
Ischinger pointed out the difference between the US and EU approaches to China. “We know that the United States has a China policy”, he said. “They know what they want to achieve with China… Does the European Union speak with one voice on China? Can our partner in Washington define what the EU position on China is? Not really so far”.
Balancing cooperation and rivalry
Ischinger called on the EU leaders to define the areas where they can agree on a joint policy towards China, and then to coordinate with Washington on forming a common strategy to reach their goals. In some matters, Ischinger argued, it is better to cooperate with China while, in others, it would be more desirable if the West were to compete with China.
“We need to figure out the proper way of balancing between areas of cooperation and areas of pushback”, Ischinger said, listing climate change and arms control as fields where continued cooperation with Chinese leadership was essential.
At the same time, the West needs to compete at the highest level, he maintained. “Power in the 21st century means competing in high technology, competing in artificial intelligence, competing in the power over data. Who controls data will be controlling the world”, he declared.