For example, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi recently foamed about a visit by a Czech politician to Taiwan: “This betrayal” makes the Czech Republic an “enemy of 1.4 billion Chinese”.
Not only since China’s chief diplomat got off the mark, Europe has also responded with harder lines. Ever since China passed its controversial security law for Hong Kong in the summer, European niceties have finally been over. The list of points of contention – from mass prison camps in Xinjiang to unfair economic practices – grew too long. “We are now at a turning point in European-Chinese relations,” confirms Mikko Huotari.
The vice-head of the German think tank MERICS (Mercator Institute for Chinese Studies) assumes “that Xi Jinping’s techno-nationalist course will cause the European Union even more problems”.
With the “Made in China 2025” strategy that he was promoting, the head of state set the goal in Beijing: China should become a high-tech superpower and thus world market leader within five years – no matter what the cost. For a long time Europe saw the rising economic giant China as a partner. One hoped for “change through trade” – and thus for fair economic relations with the Middle Kingdom. A mutual investment protection agreement has been negotiated for six years now – it would be the heart and gem of an upright economic partnership between the two trading giants.