Relations between China and the European Union have soured over the Communist country’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, with the EU now emphasizing more autonomy, according to a “roadmap” prepared to guide the recovery from the crisis.

Diplomats warned of growing anger over China’s behavior during the pandemic, including allegations of price gouging by Chinese suppliers of medical equipment and for being clueless about how its actions were viewed by other countries.

“Over these months China has lost Europe,” Reinhard Buetikofer, a German Green party lawmaker who chairs the European Parliament’s delegation for relations with China, told Bloomberg News.

Buetikofer cited anger about the Chinese Communist Party’s “truth management” in the early stages of the virus, an “extremely aggressive” stance by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing and “hard line propaganda” that champions the superiority of Communist Party rule over democracy, the news service reported.

Rather than any single act responsible for the breakdown, he said, “it’s the pervasiveness of an attitude that does not purvey the will to create partnerships, but the will to tell people what to do.”

Some EU members are pursuing policies to slash their dependence on Communist China.

“Now the atmosphere in Europe is rather toxic when it comes to China,” Joerg Wuttke, president of the EU Chamber of Commerce in China, told Bloomberg.

Publicly, Chinese officials have struck a conciliatory tone.

“When people’s lives are at stake, nothing matters more than saving lives. It is useless to argue over the merits of different social systems or models,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a press conference on April 17.

China, he said, was ready to work with the international community, including European countries, to “jointly safeguard the health and safety of all mankind.”

Regardless, leaders of the European Council put the ”roadmap” together ahead of a video conference Thursday of the EU’s 27 heads of government, who are due to sign off on a $584 billion aid package to protect companies, workers and governments from economic ruin, Politico reported.

The document calls on members to “invest in strategic value chains and to reduce over-dependency on third countries” — a clear reference to China.

A recovery fund was also on Thursday’s agenda to jump-start the EU economy once governments begin to ease lockdowns imposed to stop the spread of the pandemic.

“I propose that we task the Commission to analyse the exact needs and come up with a proposal that is commensurate with the challenge we are facing,” European Council President Charles Michel said in an adjoining letter obtained by the website.

With Bloomberg



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