The European Union considers the Chinese regime a competitor instead of a trade partner as tensions escalate, with one member state calling China a “systemic rival.” 

During a two-day summit this week, EU leaders assessed the bloc’s relationship with the world’s second-largest economy.

Reuters reported that the shift comes as EU diplomats are concerned that Chinese leader Xi Jinping is pushing China on an authoritarian path.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, “It was very clear from the Congress that President Xi is continuing to reinforce the very assertive and self-reliant course China has taken.”

She added, “The Chinese system is fundamentally different from ours, and we are aware of the nature of the rivalry.” 

EU leaders also expressed concern over Beijing’s stance with Russia since the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.

According to Bloomberg, Lithuania President Gitanas Nauseda said China’s backing of Russian President Vladimir Putin exposed Beijing as a “systemic rival.” 

China imposed multiple punitive measures on Lithuania after the Baltic country let Taiwan open an office in its capital last year. 

Nauseda said, “We see how our decision regarding the Taiwanese office, which is [having] no diplomatic representation, has provoked pressures from China. But we’ve compensated the trade losses from China and have managed to withstand pressures.” 

French President Emmanuel Macron admitted that the EU was “naive” and has made strategic errors in the past in selling crucial infrastructures to China.

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin warned that critical infrastructure should not be sold to totalitarian regimes.

EU leaders also signaled that Germain chancellor Scholz should not deal separately with China in his next November trip because the bloc wanted a “single voice” on the regime.

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