Amid tensions with America, China is turning to Europe

A REMARKABLE summit between the European Union and China in Beijing on July 16th marked a turning-point in Chinese views of the EU. Rules and laws bind the EU’s 500m citizens together, albeit scratchily at times. Chinese leaders are sniffy about polities that espouse rule of law as a founding principle. The Communist Party prefers to talk of “rule by law”. Rules are tools by which the strong exercise power over the weak. American talk of a rules-based order, notably, strikes China as the purest hypocrisy—a figleaf covering a superpower’s lust for dominance. Unable to bully its way past America, China has often tried to press European governments to bend or break rules that it found inconvenient, seeing the Old Continent as cash-strapped, malleable and easy to divide.

Yet face to face with European bureaucrats this week, President Xi Jinping and his team agreed, in effect, that the one thing worse than an American-led world was one with no rules at all. The cause of this shift, as with so…Continue reading

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