“In connection with China, the European Union is well aware and worried about the expansion of the influence of Beijing across the European continent however, China is in the meantime a big economic partner of many European countries. Therefore relations between China and Europe are inevitable and Europe cannot consider China as a security threat. As a result, European countries are hoping that with the expansion of their relations with China and their mutual dependence, they can confront with increasing influence of China at the global level,” said Morteza Makki in an interview with the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations.
Makki said there are presently serious discussions in Europe and the United States on how to continue their relations with China and Russia during the Biden presidency.
He added that “Europe and the United States in principle share many commonalities in ideas, interests and threats and that’s why the NATO military alliance was formed after the Second World War as the main collective security mechanism between Europe and the US. NATO continues its existence even three decades after the collapse of the former Soviet Union.”
Makki said the main important reason for the sustainability of NATO is the threats and interests these two allies have in common which have encouraged the two sides of the Atlantics to remain committed to this collective security alliance.
He said the world is in an international transition period as the US is losing its status as the world’s superior power from the economic, political and military point of view.
“The most important threat which has jeopardized the status of the United States in the global arena as a superpower comes from China and Russia. Russia is considered as the world’s superior military power after the United States and China will surpass the United States economically within the next few years as the number one economic power of the world, given the current trend of the rapid economic growth of China. Additionally, China has the world’s highest military spending after the United States and would challenge and threaten the economic, political and military status of the US at the global level with executing important and ambitious projects such as the revival of the Silk Road. For this reason, Barack Obama’s national security strategy considered China and Russia as the two main threats to the US security.”
Referring to the developments during the Trump administration, he said US relationship with Beijing and Moscow continued during the Trump tenure and he imposed big tariffs on Chinese goods and sanctioned Chinese companies in order to confront the economic and political influence of China.
Asked about the EU and US approaches towards the Chinese and Russian threats, he said the two sides of the Atlantics share the same view on this issue even though there is a difference of idea between the United States and big European states especially Germany, France and the United Kingdom on confronting the threats imposed by China and Russia.
Makki believes that European countries are not enjoying the same capabilities and powers of the United States in adopting hostile policies towards Beijing and that’s why they have a different opinion concerning confrontation with China and Russia. In the world today, Makki said, the rapid economic growth of China has provided a big opportunity for European countries to defuse consequences of economic recession as China is a big market for Europe and can also make large investments in European countries.
He added that European countries are heavily dependent on China therefore the amount of cooperation between Europe and China is so much high Europeans cannot find a solution to cut such dependency on China.
“Emanuel Macron, the French President, declared openly when Joe Biden came into office in the White House that the United States cannot expect Europe to accompany the US and align with it in confrontation with China. It therefore does not seem that the United States and Europe can compete over China in a manner that Europe wants to replace the US in attracting China’s large market.”
Makki said that it appears that given the tactical difference between Europe and the United States in confronting China, Beijing tries to benefit strategically from such a difference and expand its communications with European countries. A good example of such a policy is the Huawei company.
“When Trump imposed serious restrictions on the activities of the Huawei in the United States, this Chinese company tried to expand its relations with the European countries and companies. Now, Huawei is one of the largest contractors in many European countries to construct the fifth generation G5 communications infrastructure across Europe. The United States complained and blamed Europe and even asked the UK government to review its contract with the Chinese company—a request declined by the British government.”
Makki emphasized that “given that the US and China are considered two big rivals in the area of IT and communication technology in the world, the United States is trying hard to control China and reduce its growth rate and prevent it from becoming world’s number one economy. In this connection, Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, said in his recent remarks on the relations between Beijing and Washington that such relations are within the framework of cooperation, confrontation and competition depending on the behavior and actions of China at the global stage.”