BRUSSELS — A hardening of China’s position from an era of reform and opening to one of security and control requires Europe to “de-risk” diplomatically and economically, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday.
Ahead of next week’s visit to China with French President Macron, von der Leyen delivered a sober assessment of Chinese policies, acknowledging that relations with Beijing have become “more distant and more difficult” in the last few years.
Von der Leyen said China, whose President Xi Jinping pledged closer ties with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin last week, bore responsibility for advancing a “just peace” to end the war in Ukraine that required the withdrawal of invading Russian forces.
China, she said, was becoming more repressive at home and more assertive abroad.
Von der Leyen said it was not viable to decouple from China, but it was vital to focus on reducing the risks posed to Europe.
Economically, the European Union needed to “rebalance” the relationship and reduce its reliance on China.
The EU, von der Leyen said, already had a range of measures to counter economic distortions and protect its security interests, but the bloc should also look the high-tech it shared with a changing China.
The European Commission, she said, would present ideas later this year on measures to control outbound investments in certain sensitive technologies to ensure they do not enhance the military or intelligence capabilities of a systemic rival. (Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop and Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Alex Richardson)