EU and Chinese officials meeting in Brussels on Tuesday proclaimed their summit as a win-win.
European Council President Donald Tusk declared a “breakthrough” on some of the EU’s major trade disagreements — including a joint pledge to back tough World Trade Organization rules on industrial subsidies. Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “Today, we are making good on our joint commitment to uphold and to update the rules-based global order that has served us so well.
And Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, appearing at a news conference with Tusk and Juncker, declared the agreements reached at the summit “something good for China’s reform and opening-up endeavors, and good for European unity and prosperity.”
For the EU, it was an illustration that a bloc known for soft power could take a harder line, and also that its commitment to dialogue is a source of strength not weakness. It was also a chance to show that China is more than willing to deal with the EU collectively.
For China, it was an opportunity to portray itself as compromising and reasonable — essentially a preemptive move against any suggestion by Trump that failure to reach a deal was the result of Chinese intransigence.
In Brussels, during a series of summit meetings at which officials worked hard to focus on common interests, perhaps the foremost imperative for Brussels and Beijing was to showcase the failure of US President Donald Trump’s belligerence towards China
Last week, Tusk urged EU leaders not to support a joint statement with China, saying there has not been sufficient cooperation from the Chinese side to address European concerns on a range of issues. But an intense 72 hours of negotiations led to key breakthroughs, particularly on the issue of industrial subsidies, as well as on geographical indications, and it yielded a robust joint statement..