China courts Europe to counter U.S.

July 10, 2018 12:00 am | Updated 03:38 am IST - Beijing

Beijing, Berlin should map out future cooperation from a new starting point: Li

China has begun to actively court Europe, as the trade war with Washington intensifies and the hunt for new supply chains and markets outside the U.S. accelerates.

In Berlin, visiting Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang said that China and Germany must shift gears not only to consolidate their ties, but also to defend free and open trade. Mr. Li’s remarks followed China’s open criticism of the U.S., which was officially described as a “trade bully”, within hours of Washington targeting Chinese products with an additional 25% duty on Friday.

China sees Germany as its key partner for transitioning its economy towards Internet-based “smart manufacturing”. The Made-in-China 2025 strategy is based on Germany’s Industry 4.0 model.

Safeguarding free trade

Mr. Li stressed that Beijing and Berlin should jointly map out their future “all-round cooperation from a new starting point”. This was necessary to safeguard “free trade, multilateralism and a fair and just international order”.

Mr. Li will also hold talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, marking their second meeting in three months. Ms. Merkel had visited Beijing and Shenzhen — China’s hi-tech capital — in May. The two leaders will also witness the China-Germany automated driving exhibition and attend an economic and technical forum.

Following Mr. Li’s visit, Beijing will host a summit of EU leaders on July 16-17, apparently, as a stepped up effort to build a coalition to counter U.S. protectionism.

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