Top European Union diplomat calls China an 'ally' despite Hong Kong crisis


China is a necessary “ally” in global affairs due to its economic clout and capacity to influence major issues, according to the European Union’s top diplomat.

“It is impossible to put our relationship with China into a single box,” EU High Representative Josep Borrell told reporters Friday. “It is a competitor, a partner, an ally, a rival — everything at the same time. So, it's a complex relationship that cannot be reduced to a single dimension."

Borrell faulted China for announcing a plan to tighten the Chinese Communist Party’s control over Hong Kong, a former British colony that traditionally has enjoyed many freedoms unknown on the mainland. Yet, his emphasis on China’s potential to function as an “ally” in some areas struck a very different note from that of the United States, as American officials have portrayed the crackdown as the action of a rogue power.

"The PRC abhors transparency and only fulfills its international commitments and obligations when it’s convenient,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kellie Currie said Friday, using the acronym for the official name of the Chinese government, the People’s Republic of China.

“The United States is resolute and calls upon all U.N. member states to join us in demanding that the PRC immediately reverse course and honor its international legal commitments to this institution and to the Hong Kong people,” she added.

President Trump has decided to sanction Chinese officials involved in Hong Kong policy-making and revoke the special status that has allowed the territory to have a close economic relationship with the U.S. in recent decades. Borrell rebuffed such tactics.

"I don't think that sanctions are the way to solve our problems with China,” he said.

Borrell invoked climate change policy repeatedly when describing China as an ally, but he acknowledged that political disputes are also brewing.
“It is difficult to imagine that we can solve the world climate challenge without a strong partnership between Europe and China,” he said. “On the other hand, it's clear also it's a systemic rival, and this dimension of our relationship is there. It's even increasing."

In any case, he declined to forecast any substantive retaliation over Hong Kong. “We will continue discussing, we will continue reaching out with Beijing,” he said. “Our reaction has to be commensurate with the steps that have already been taken, and we will continue trying to put pressure on the Chinese authorities in order to make them aware that this issue will affect the way we deal with some of the issues of mutual interest. But there is nothing more on the agenda.”