UK, France scapegoat China for epidemic losses, but cooperation still mainstream: expert
By Xie Wenting Source:Global Times Published: 2020/4/17 15:23:40
Some politicians in Europe have tried to make China a scapegoat to ease public disappointment over the continuously worsening pandemics in their own countries and contain China's global influence, experts told the Global Times on Friday, following reports that British foreign minister and French president had criticized China over the epidemic.
Despite this friction, experts noted that cooperation between China and European countries will go on, as both sides share many common interests in terms of trade and economy, people-to-people exchanges, and global affairs.
Addressing the public from Downing Street on Thursday night, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK won't conduct business as usual with China after the pandemic. Raab said there would have to be a "deep dive" into the facts around the outbreak, according to media reports.
On Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron questioned China's handling of the coronavirus outbreak, saying things "happened that we don't know about" in an interview with the Financial Times.
Responding to Raab and Macron's remarks, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told Friday's regular media briefing that the urgent task is to unite to fight COVID-19 and it's meaningless to focus on the competition of models.
Zhao said China is willing to work with the UK and France to uphold multilateralism and strengthen international cooperation to safeguard the health and safety of mankind.
Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Friday that the coronavirus is a heavy blow to the UK and France, so some politicians need to find excuses to explain to the public their failures in dealing with the virus outbreak.
"If they cannot address the public's disappointment about their handling of the coronavirus, it could further hurt their governance of the country," Li said.
The global order will change after the coronavirus pandemic, and it will see an adjustment and transformation. Western countries have long played a leading role in international affairs. But this time, disunity and disharmony among them are being exposed in combating the COVID-19.
Meanwhile, voices advocating stronger cooperation between China and other countries are being enhanced as China - which has accumulated useful experience - is closely cooperating with others.
"This unnerves some European countries including the UK and France. As they want to maintain their dominant roles in the global order, they will smear China to contain its growing influence," Li said.
Cui Hongjian, director of EU Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Friday that after some in the US pressed China for "economic compensation," the UK feels pressure to follow suit.
"The UK didn't go along with the US in 5G, so this time it wants to find a new point to balance its relations with the US," Cui said.
Cui said that European countries are experiencing changes in public sentiment due to their changing domestic situations. He suggested they should keep calm and focus on containing the virus.
Li noted that given the huge economic losses that the West has suffered, the possibility of some politicians using all means to ask for compensation from China should not be ruled out.
"The politicians should learn to respect science as the pandemic is a scientific issue, instead of doing things only for political gains."
Li noted that friction and disputes can be managed in a "constructive" manner, which should not ruin cooperation between the two sides.
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