From 13 to 15 September, the heads of government of all European countries will meet with the Chinese government in Leipzig. This will not only be about intensifying trade relations. Rather, it will be about building a new global partnership so that the EU is not ousted from the table of the great powers in the future. The deterioration in the EU’s relationship with the USA under Donald Trump has made it necessary to find another partner to coordinate the shaping of its own global interests with the EU. The topics of the summit are therefore not only economic relations, but also foreign and security policy and – unsurprisingly – digitalisation and digital cooperation, as well as climate protection and human rights. The summit is based on strategic position papers which already began in the EU-China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation from 2013 and have since become increasingly concrete at the annual meetings. This year, not only representatives from China and the EU will meet for the first time, but also all heads of state and government.
The central point of the agenda relates to future trade between the EU and China. After the USA, China is the most important trading partner for the EU, the other way round, the EU is the most important trading partner for China. Both share economic conflicts with the United States, which in turn are the second most important global trading partner for China. The summit is also an event to put pressure on the United States and to strengthen the significantly deteriorated position of the EU and China vis-à-vis the United States. The new trade relations should be expressed in the mutual opening of new markets, as well as the EU’s efforts to strengthen and advance China’s position in the WTO. Because China’s relationship with the WTO is not free of conflict: the US, in particular, uses references to human rights time and again to weaken the Chinese position in the WTO and set conditions to force China to adapt to American production conditions; The background to this is the competitive disadvantages that arise for the USA and partly also for the EU through laws on occupational safety and health and the existence of, albeit weak, unions. In 2018, an EU-China working group with a focus on the WTO was set up to strengthen China’s position without any actual adjustment. Since the dismantling and softening of workers’ rights is also progressing in Europe, it can be guessed that the cooperation between the EU and China should not improve working conditions in China. Cooperation between Europe and China is therefore an immediate attack on every little reform effort in China and on working conditions in Europe.
Foreign and Security Policy
Another central point of the meeting will be the coordination of a common foreign and security policy. Here, too, it has become clear that the United States is not a reliable partner for Europe unconditionally. In order not to be dependent on military cooperation with the USA, European interests should in future be pursued in cooperation with China. One of the aims here is to intensify military cooperation in Africa. Both China and the EU are in the process of further colonising the African continent; in addition to securing rare earths as resources, the aim is also to establish their own production facilities in the African countries. On the one hand, this serves to minimise European costs for large European corporations that want to produce without the European conditions of labour safety and rights, and on the other hand, it also serves the operation of necessary infrastructure in Africa by Chinese corporations. The development of infrastructure and the outsourcing of production result in a common interest in taking military action, if necessary, against all armed groups that endanger their own interests. In addition, protection against so-called “piracy”, such as in the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden, plays a central role in securing one’s own economic transport routes.
But there is more at stake here. In the preparation for the summit, for example, the EU expressly praises Chinese support in the conflict with Iran over uranium enrichment, while the EU indicates its support for China in conflicts and problems in the Asian region, as well as the declaration of intent to work together for peace worldwide. Another example mentioned in the preparation illustrates what this means. Afghanistan is mentioned as a successful project of international commitment to peace; anyone who may look at the consequences of such an intervention can see here that this peace has been mere propaganda. In fact, the United States and Europe have left behind a region deeply marked by violence, which is again largely under Taliban tyranny.
Digitization and Cybertechnology
The EU and China are already working together on digitization and cybertechnology. This is not only about the involvement of Chinese companies in the European market, such as Huawei in the introduction of the 5G network, but also about content exchange. The EU-China Cyber-Taskforce meets annually for this purpose. What this is all about becomes clear when you look at the EU’s preparatory paper. It states that the “EU-China Cyber-Taskforce provides an opportunity to exchange views in areas such as government structure and strategy, standards for good governance in cyberspace and confidence-building measures in cyberspace”. What “exchange of views in areas such as government structure and strategy” suggests are discussions on the Chinese projects on the SocialCreditSystem, in which the Chinese government not only permanently monitors all people in China, but also rewards socially desirable behaviour through general social control and sanctions deviant behaviour. Any exchange, as it is claimed, is in any case only one-sided, in that the EU can look at and listen to what already exists in China; the EU is far behind when it comes to digitalisation and cybertechnology. This is one of the reasons for the interest in more intensive cooperation with China, which can claim a prominent position for itself in the field of technology – and in this case explicit technology to control people technically and guide their behaviour.
Climate protection and human rights
Climate protection and human rights are also on the agenda of the EU-China Summit. However, both are no more than waste paper; both serve to gloss over the actual intentions in the media. From the EU’s perspective, the demand for human rights is ridiculous, if only because the EU itself is currently pushing ahead massively with the dismantling of already weak human rights, as can be seen clearly in the way it is currently dealing with refugees at the EU’s external borders or in refugee camps, not to mention the injustices of the past, and in the authoritarian restrictions on almost all basic rights and freedoms in the context of the Corona pandemic. For China, on the other hand, there is no reason at all to be lectured by the European Union; the success of the Chinese economy is seamlessly linked to the exploitative and hostile conditions of production, which make it possible to export goods to the whole world at unrivalled knock-down prices. New regulations regarding climate protection or, for example, the obligation for companies to ensure that the individual suppliers of goods also respect human rights were the first to be rolled back in the case of the Corona pandemic.
The Leipzig Summit
To want to hold the summit in Leipzig is tantamount to a gesture of dominance by the German government, which, following the G20 summit in Hamburg, wants to show that it is possible to hold a summit even if it is held in a city that has a reputation as a “left-wing stronghold”. For the Saxon state government under Prime Minister Kretschmer and Leipzig’s Lord Mayor Jung, it is simply a matter of reviving the economic location of Saxony and Leipzig, as well as an expansion of the police security apparatus supported by federal resources. The expansion of the economic location goes hand in hand with the sell-out of cities, communities, open spaces and living space, which is already leading to ongoing displacement in the larger cities, including the associated decomposition of social relationships and the lives of individual, especially poorer people, as well as the continuing influx of wealthy people into the larger cities. In order to safeguard this development against a further impoverishing underclass, the security apparatus is increasingly being expanded. The summit as an event is symbolic of this. In addition to the previously mentioned points that justify an attack on the summit from all parts of the world, this has a further local significance. The Saxon Ministry of the Interior justifies the holding of the summit as follows “Especially in times when almost all events are cancelled or postponed for the coming weeks and months and companies from the tourism, hospitality, trade fairs etc. sectors are hit particularly hard, the state government considers it the right sign to stick to this event. As a trade fair city and venue, Leipzig is well practised and experienced in holding international and high-level meetings and events. In this respect, the state government has every confidence in the federal government to take the interests of Leipzig’s city society sufficiently into account when selecting venues for events”.
No to the summit!
More than anything else, the EU-China Summit means a further escalation of the top-down struggle. Poverty and prosperity are to be further redistributed in favour of the economy and ruling elites. We will not stand idly by and we will attack and fight the summit to the best of our ability. Despite short preparation time, despite the Corona pandemic and all the narrowness it brings with it:
We call on all of you to come to Leipzig from September 13th to 15th and attack the summit with us! No rest for the rulers – not here in Leipzig and not elsewhere! No to the EU-China Summit!