EU: Trade with China Trumps Freedom for Hong Kong

The British government announced that it was considering granting citizenship to the nearly three million residents of Hong Kong. The move infuriated China, which fears a massive brain drain from Hong Kong that would jeopardize the city’s role as a global financial and trading hub.

Germany, which takes over the six-month rotating EU presidency on July 1, has announced that it will prioritize relations with China. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is particularly determined to proceed with a major EU-China summit to be held in the German city of Leipzig in September. She is reportedly under intense pressure from German automobile manufacturers, who are concerned about maintaining their access to the Chinese market.

“Europe can and should respond more forcefully than it has so far…. [If Germany cancelled] its looming summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Leipzig in September 2020 unless Beijing withdraws its national security legislation…. That would send a strong signal that it will not be business as usual…” — Noah Barkin, a senior fellow in Berlin at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

“German Chancellor Merkel does not seem to fully appreciate how continued Communist Party rule endangers peace, security and public health, not just in China, but around the world.” — Andreas Fulda, a senior fellow at the University of Nottingham’s Asia Research Institute.

“The European Union… has the choice. Should we make a pact with an authoritarian regime or should we work to strengthen a community of free, constitutionally governed market economies with liberal societies? It is remarkable that German politics, with its love of moralizing, seems to throw its values out the window when dealing with China…. If current… policy on China continues, this will lead to a gradual decoupling from America and a step-by-step infiltration and subjugation by China. Economic dependence will only be the first step. Political influence will follow. In the end, it is quite simple. What kind of future do we want for Europe? An alliance with an imperfect democracy or with a perfect dictatorship? It should be an easy decision for us to make. It is about more than just money. It is about our freedom…” — Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer, Europe’s largest publishing company.

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