At a conference of European diplomats held in Paris on August 30, Gabriel warned colleagues that China is trying to “divide Europe” and that the continent must find a common strategy to counterbalance Beijing’s influence.
Gabriel stated that some European countries side with China on fundamental issues because they are afraid of alienating a partner on whom they increasingly rely. As an example Gabriel cited the failure of European states to unanimously condemn Beijing’s expansion in the South China Sea.
In July of last year the European Union (EU) released a statement regarding the South China Sea dispute that reflected divisions among the 28 member-states. While Britain, France and Germany insisted on pressuring China to abide by international law, governments of smaller countries such as Greece and Hungary, which seek to attract Chinese investment, prevented the European bloc from issuing a clear condemnation of China’s actions.
Gabriel also criticized China’s ‘Belt and Road’ initiative as a means to further not only the country’s economic and cultural interests, but also its geopolitical and military aims.
Europe should promote good relations with China, but it must also “demand that China pursue a One-Europe policy and do not try to divide us”, just as China demands of Europe that it “pursue a One-China policy.”
Sigmar Gabriel’s comments show that China has already achieved its goal of being a key player on the world stage.
For the first time a European politician has adopted a Chinese foreign policy doctrine and applied it to Europe’s own geopolitical strategy.
Beijing’s ‘One-China policy‘ is the principle that there is only one China in the world and that Taiwan is part of China. On the basis of this principle, Beijing claims that Taiwan is part of Chinese territory.
Gabriel has thus implicitly accepted Beijing’s claims over Taiwan. He has also shown that Germany is willing to adopt China’s foreign policy logic and standards in order to persuade it to accept Europe’s demands.
At a press conference on August 31 Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying expressed “shock” at the news of Gabriel’s criticism of China. She asked ‘relevant persons’ to clarify the meaning of the ‘One-Europe policy’ and asked whether there was a consensus in Europe on the meaning of the concept. She added that to her knowledge the European Union is not a “sovereign country” but “an organization set up by sovereign nations.”
Reacting to Gabriel’s statements, Taiwanese netizens said that Germany was just “making fun” of Beijing’s ‘One-China principle’.
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