The European Union and Germany were accused by China of adopting measures that would be discriminatory against Chinese companies. Wang Weidong, commercial counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Germany, issued a stern warning to the bloc saying China will not “sit idle” at the condescending attitude the EU has towards his country.
German and EU officials are seeking to intensify scrutiny of Chinese businesses and adopt a more hostile approach toward China amid growing pressure from the US.
Mr Wang hit back: “Some people in the EU bloc regard China as an imaginary enemy by planning and introducing restrictive measures, including screening foreign investment, supply chains and imposing a carbon border tax.
“There is nothing wrong in the legislation itself… but we are worried that such policies are being abused and distorted by political factors, which will disrupt trade between China, Germany and the EU and result in restrictive measures against Chinese firms.”
The Chinese official warned that if “fake news” about China continued to influence public opinion in the EU, small and medium-sized businesses in Germany will pay the price of being excluded from a booming market.
Duan Wei, secretary-general of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Germany, said that Chinese businesses are subject to mounting uncertainties across their operations in Europe and Germany due to stricter controls on investment.
He said: “Some Chinese companies were thinking: why German entrepreneurs were able to return to China, but we can’t return to Germany?”
Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Wednesday: “Europe has deliberately set barriers that hurt bilateral relations.
“If they do not show intent to repair ties and continue with anti-China policies, China, which is crucial to Europe’s post-virus economic recovery and supply chain stability, could show them the severe consequences.”
Mr Wang’s comments come as EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen urged EU governments to face up to the “hyper-competitiveness” of China and Russia.
She did not name China and Russia but went on to talk about misinformation, vaccines and loans, all areas in which Beijng and Moscow are accused of seeking advantages.
The EU must also do more to counter China’s building of infrastructure around the world, von der Leyen said.
She said: “We’re pretty good at financing roads, but it doesn’t make any sense for Europe if we build a perfect road between a Chinese copper mine and a harbour that’s Chinese-owned.”
A row between China and the bloc is also being exacerbated by Beijing’s decision to withdraw its ambassador to Lithuania over a dispute about Taiwan.
Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, whose country holds the six-month EU presidency, said the move was “reprehensible” and would hurt EU-China ties.
“We will be able to face China successfully only with a united, coherent and common approach,” Jansa wrote. “We must stand by every EU member state that is facing pressure.”
Lithuania and Taiwan this year opened reciprocal representative offices in a sign of deepening relations.
China considers fiercely democratic, self-ruled Taiwan part of “one China”, to be united with the mainland eventually, and is regularly angered by any moves which suggest the island is a separate country.
Beijing recalled its ambassador from Vilnius and expelled Lithuania’s from Beijing. Lithuania recalled its ambassador in Beijing for consultations.
Lithuanian officials have also said that China has begun making trade with the Baltic state more difficult, stopping the approval of permits for food exports to China.
In his letter, Jansa said Taiwan “remains our important partner. This should not be denied”.