“Senior EU officials have tried unsuccessfully to persuade Beijing to push Moscow towards deescalation,” Eurasia Group experts wrote in a statement Tuesday. “[They] now he will try to enlist Xi, but the feeling in Brussels is that China is not interested in putting pressure on Russia. “
The divergence over the Russia-Ukraine crisis stands in contrast to the economic ties between China and Europe, which deepened during the coronavirus pandemic.
Here’s a look at how things stand and what’s at stake.
What’s on the table
“How China handles this conflict will have an impact on the overall future of EU-China relations,” Reinhard Butikofer, head of the European Parliament’s delegation for relations with China before the summit, told reporters.
China acknowledged the tension in the room but rejected any allegations of wrongdoing.
“The current international situation is unstable,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a press conference on Wednesday.
China has long sought to create a wedge between the United States and the European Union, with state officials and media often stressing the blockade’s importance for “strategic autonomy” from Washington.
An excellent business partner
Despite the pressure, China and the European Union depend heavily on each other for hundreds of billions of dollars in trade each year.
In 2021, the trend continued: total trade in goods between China and the EU reached 695.5 billion euros (around 777 billion dollars), compared to 631.4 billion euros (704 billion dollars) in US trade. – EU.
According to Eurostat, China was the first source of EU imports and the third largest destination for EU exports, after the United States and the United Kingdom.
Who trades what
Automobiles, machinery and telecommunications equipment are some of the most traded goods between Europe and China.
For Europe, automobiles and vehicle components are by far the hottest exports, while aviation and electric gears are also popular.
Meanwhile, baby carriages, data processing machines, furniture and other household items are among the big Chinese sellers in Europe. Many products flow into the Netherlands, home to the largest port in Europe, Rotterdam.
The main exporters of the region to China are Germany, which alone accounts for 104.7 billion euros (116.5 billion dollars) of goods shipped to China, followed by France and the Netherlands.
Currently, however, tensions are high on one particular, much smaller EU country: Lithuania.
The move infuriated the communist leadership of Beijing, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory, despite never having ruled it.
“The problem between China and Lithuania is political, not economic,” he said.
Janka Oertel, director of the Asia program at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said the case would likely come first for EU leaders on Friday.
“Brussels will have to send a strong signal of unity to deter further attacks, implicit or explicit,” he said.
Given the current plethora of problems, he is “a non-starter” for now, analysts from Eurasia Group said.
– CNN’s Beijing office, Irene Nasser, Julia Horowitz, James Frater, Martin Goillandeau and Luke McGee contributed to this report.