Earlier today, officials from the European Union (EU), Malaysia, and Singapore expressed skepticism regarding the United States’ efforts to exclude China from the global high-tech trading system. These countries are reluctant to join the US in its attempts to curb China’s rapid expansion as a global technology power. Meanwhile, France is intensifying pressure on the EU to respond to what it perceives as China’s unfair advantages in export sectors, particularly electric vehicles. However, the EU is cautious about triggering a full-scale trade conflict with Beijing, considering China’s recovering economy and vulnerability to attacks on its manufacturing integrity, and the overall international trade relations with China.
At POLITICO’s Global Tech Day, key figures voiced their concerns and emphasized the importance of maintaining ties with China for economic prosperity. David Koh, Chief Executive of Singapore’s Cyber Security Agency, highlighted that Singapore’s open economy has been a source of wealth and affirmed the country’s commitment to building relations with China. Lucilla Sioli, a senior official within the European Commission’s DG CONNECT, underlined Brussels’ determination to continue cooperation with Beijing, despite growing concerns about economic dependencies.
Fahmi Fadzil, Malaysia’s Minister of Communications and Digital, echoed the sentiment, emphasizing to POLITICO, China’s significance as a vital trading partner. Fadzil stated, “For Malaysia, its known as an important trading partner considering the international trade relations with China. Malaysia is a neutral country, and we adhere to a free market policy.”
Meanwhile, France is urging the EU to take action against China’s perceived unfair advantages in export sectors, particularly electric vehicles. The EU, however, is cautious about the potential risks of triggering a full-scale trade conflict with Beijing. Brussels has recently bolstered its trade defense capabilities, and France wants the European Commission to utilize these resources effectively and demonstrate its resolve. EU leaders will discuss France’s proposal at an upcoming summit, with Germany and other member states advocating for a cautious approach to avoid provoking Beijing’s countermeasures against EU industries, given their previous bitter experience.
Also, the EU is considering using a new international procurement instrument against Chinese medical devices, aiming to push China to open its public procurement market. This move involves threatening to close the EU’s highly lucrative public tender market in retaliation. The goal is to achieve greater market access and fairness in trade relations with China.
The pushback from countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, and France against US anti-China tech policy aligns with the EU’s broader objectives of maintaining stability and cooperation within the international community. While addressing concerns about China’s trade practices, these countries recognize the importance of engaging with China to foster understanding and cooperation. They aim to strike a delicate balance between safeguarding their own economic interests and promoting stability in the global economy.
In the words of Lucilla Sioli to POLITICO from the European Commission’s DG CONNECT, “We are mindful of the challenges, but we will continue to engage with China to foster mutual understanding and cooperation, ensuring that our actions align with our broader objectives of maintaining stability and prosperity within the international community.”
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