Foreign Minister urges EU to strive for relations with China based on mutual respect not rivalry

Hungary sees China not as a risk factor or a threat, but as a country with which cooperation is beneficial.

Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said Hungary sees China not as a risk factor or a threat, but as a country with which cooperation is beneficial.

Speaking in Brussels on Thursday, following a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council, the foreign minister urged the European Union to strive for relations based on mutual respect, rather than a rivalry with China. Unlike Hungary, most EU member states see economic cooperation with China as a threat. “We don’t see any kind of risk or threat in China, but rather a country with which normal cooperation can benefit us greatly,” Szijjártó said. He noted that China’s GDP is now higher than that of the EU. While in 2010 China accounted for 9% of global GDP and the EU 22%, China’s share has increased to 18% and the EU’s has dropped to 17%, he said. “If Europe sees China as a rival, it will lose out,” he warned. Minister Szijjártó emphasised that if the car industry, which he said formed the backbone of the European economy, was to reinvent itself, Western car manufacturers needed electric batteries, for which they were dependent on Eastern, particularly Chinese companies. This “healthy division of labour” is not a risk, but rather an opportunity to develop civilised East-West cooperation, the minister said. Meanwhile, he criticised the EU’s planned eleventh sanctions package against Russia for including eight Chinese companies. He said it would trigger a response from Beijing, eventually leading to a negative spiral. Turning to economic ties between the EU and the United States, Minister Szijjártó said the “patriotic measures” introduced by the US were helping American businesses, while the sanctions imposed by the EU were hurting the bloc’s competitiveness. He said it was a “naive illusion” on the European Commission’s part to try to negotiate with the US government on mitigating the discrimination faced by European businesses. Minister Szijjártó said the EU should instead copy the American measures so that they benefit European businesses.