EU sanctions on China over Ukraine would be totally illogical
EU headquarters building in Brussels. /CFP
EU headquarters building in Brussels. /CFP

EU headquarters building in Brussels. /CFP

Editor's note: Bradley Blankenship is a Prague-based American journalist, political analyst and freelance reporter. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

According to recent news reports, the European Union's executive body has proposed bloc-wide trade restrictions on some Chinese companies because of doing business with Russia. This prompted China's top EU affairs diplomat Wang Lutong to warn the EU not to use the Ukraine crisis "as an excuse to impose sanctions on Chinese companies" because it would "be nothing but gross violation of the companies' legitimate rights and interests."

As Wang said, "While China is making every effort to promote peace which is in Europe's interest, Europe gives a stab in the back in return, bullying China on economic issues." Some European leaders said that China is somehow benefiting from the conflict, this is just wrong. On the contrary, increasingly escalating conflict serves no one's interests and fundamentally threatens China's legitimate interest in stable and orderly relations in Eastern Europe.

To be sure, some countries in the bloc have seen that sanctioning China over Ukraine would be foolhardy. According to reports, Germany has cautioned the EU against implementing these sanctions on Beijing. And it's not hard to see why that is: most countries in the world are not joining the West's proxy conflict against Russia and are continuing to do business as usual. For example, the EU is now buying a massive amount of processed oil from India, which is originally sourced from Russia. The bloc is essentially still buying Russian oil – just with a considerable markup.

If the EU took these sanctions to their logical conclusion and applied them evenly, they would end up sanctioning most countries in the world. This would result in the immediate isolation of the EU's economy and would crash the European economy outright. Therefore, singling out China is both a clear case of double standards and also doesn't even withstand the most elementary logical scrutiny because Beijing is actively working toward a political settlement in Ukraine.

According to Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin, Special Representative of the Chinese Government on Eurasian Affairs Li Hui will travel to Ukraine, Poland, France, Germany and Russia for the development of a political situation in Ukraine beginning on May 15. This is not the activity of a warmongering state and rather demonstrates that Beijing is not only a pro-peace party vis-a-vis the conflict in Eastern Europe but is leading the charge, arguably much more than many countries in the EU bloc.

 China-Europe freight train departs from Yiwu Railway port in Jinhua, Zhejiang Province, December 7, 2022. /CFP
China-Europe freight train departs from Yiwu Railway port in Jinhua, Zhejiang Province, December 7, 2022. /CFP

China-Europe freight train departs from Yiwu Railway port in Jinhua, Zhejiang Province, December 7, 2022. /CFP

For the EU, singling out China over Ukraine, which just doesn't make any sense, to begin with, would be extraordinarily counterproductive for the ailing European economy. Since 2020, China has been the EU's largest trade partner, with trade reaching 586 billion euros ($711 billion), compared to 555 billion euros between the U.S. and EU, according to stats published by Eurostat that year. Trade has grown consistently since then, and the Chinese market, given its relatively large predicted growth this year and a comparative lack of a COVID-19-related economic crash or biting inflation, is indispensable for the EU.

China is already the world's largest economy by gross domestic product (GDP) in PPP terms but will be the largest in terms of nominal GDP within the next five years barring any unexpected events. Analysts from Morgan Stanley also predicted in 2021 that China's consumer spending would double by 2030 to approximately $12.7 trillion, which is about what American consumers spend right now.

This means China will be an even more lucrative consumer destination for European products, as well as a steady supplier of goods, especially if the two sides sought deeper trade ties, for example, through the China-EU Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) that is still held up in the EU Parliament. European leaders often complain about a lack of market access in China while, at the same time, not pressing for the ratification of the CAI – or, more radically, supporting sanctions on China.

These actions from Brussels do not fit with EU countries' fundamental economic interests. There is no good sense in attacking one's largest trading partner, especially when that same partner is going to great lengths to ensure one's fundamental security. But time and time again, we see how win-win cooperation takes a back seat to supporting the whims of the fast-decaying U.S. empire. It is good to see dissent from, for instance, Germany but torching the EU's most elementary interests would not even be on the table in a sane world.

It's high time that European leaders stand up for themselves and say "no" to the forces trying to keep down not only America's supposed adversaries – but also its supposed allies.

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at Follow @thouse_opinions on Twitter to discover the latest commentaries in the CGTN Opinion Section.)

Search Trends