Europe’s China diplomacy seeks silver linings to US trade war



Cathrin Schaer | Aljazeera

Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan has visited Germany this week, first visiting Hamburg’s harbour, where a Chinese firm is building a new container terminal, then holding talks with Angela Merkel, the country’s chancellor and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin on Friday.

His German tour follows a two-day trip to the Netherlands.

The Europe trip is important. “Berlin’s stance on China – for better or worse – affects its European neighbours’ views and policies,” Joshua Webb, of the Koerber Stiftung think-tank’s Berlin Foreign Policy Forum, told Al Jazeera.

“From lobbying for Huawei to gauging whether there is potential to lure Berlin from its orientation towards Washington, there is certainly enough to discuss from a Chinese point of view.”

In fact, Wang is just the latest in a series of high-profile Chinese visitors to Europe. It is clear that the ongoing, escalating trade war between China and the United States makes the European Union, the world’s largest trading bloc, more important to the Chinese.

There’s no doubt that trade was on the agenda in Berlin, alongside bilateral relations, observers say.

Europe certainly feels the effects of the tit-for-tat tariffs and economic sabre-rattling in which the US and China are currently engaged. But rather than seeing the European Union as helplessly trapped between two economic superpowers, most experts working in this area believe any trade war may well bring Europe more opportunities than disadvantages.

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