China warning: Beijing influence in EU growing amid ‘divide and conquer’ strategy fears

China: Expert fires warning over ‘divide and conquer strategy’

The European Union-China investment agreement was penned by European leaders last December and but experts have now warned the focus of the Chinese Communist Party is turning to the bloc’s central and eastern European nations. With Beijing pushing for a summit with a group of regional heads of government later this month, International Studies professor Jeremy Garlick has told the TRT Roundtable programme that China is eager to secure “backers” in central and eastern Europe amid concerns the Chinese regime is trying to divide Europe in two.

Jeremy Garlick told the programme: “I think China won’t change cause on central and eastern Europe I think they will try to maintain the 17 plus 1. 

“You know they have committed some effort and time to this and we have to remember also the political aspects of it. 

“Which is that China sees the need for influence in central and eastern Europe and sees it as a block that it can perhaps influence more than western Europe.

“The talk about divide and conquer strategy, that China is trying to divide Europe into West and East.”

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He added: “I don’t think China sees it that way.

“But I do think that China wants to ensure that it has influence here and to make sure, for example, in the United Nations that it has backers that it has countries on its side.

“Whether it can achieve that, whether it can be politically viable for China to gain support from central and Eastern Europian countries that’s another matter.

“But we don’t see signs of China changing course on its regional forums on other parts of the world and I think China will try to pursue the same course here as well.”

 

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The EU-China investment agreement faced immediate criticism from European Parliament members and others for not including binding commitments on workers’ rights.

MEPs have also threatened not to ratify the deal over China’s human rights abuses.

Perhaps the biggest criticism came from former Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker who blasted the decision to sign what he called a “cheap” deal.

Mr Junker said: “I spent a very long time trying to conclude this investment agreement with the Chinese president, with the Chinese prime minister.

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“And this always ultimately failed because of the question of whether the Chinese, as others have been, would be prepared to sign the International Labour Organisation conventions and bring them to life.

“We must not make any compromises on this.”

“To say ‘best efforts,’ that’s cheap,” Mr Juncker said, referring to a crucial clause in the deal, which commits Beijing to “make continued and sustained efforts” to pursue the ratification of two fundamental International Labour Organisation norms: the Forced Labor Convention and the Abolition of Forced Labor Convention.

He added: “They should sign and ratify the labour conventions.”

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