EU-China ties ‘flexible, multi-faceted’, envoy says as Brussels rolls out Indo-Pacific strategy

By The Print

In yet another setback for China, the 27-member European Union (EU) came out with its own Indo-Pacific strategy earlier this month after much deliberations. According to Ugo Astuto, ambassador of EU to India, the EU has come out with its strategy now in order to “reinforce its strategic focus, presence and action” in the region.

Speaking to ThePrint, Astuto said the EU is the topmost investor and development assistance provider, and among the biggest traders, in the Indo-Pacific region, stretching from the East Coast of Africa to the Pacific Island States.

The region is also a crucial manufacturing hub for the world that is central to global value chains and is home to 60 per cent of the world’s population and responsible for two/thirds of global economic growth.

“Against this background, the EU has decided to reinforce its strategic focus, presence and action in the Indo-Pacific, with the aim of contributing to the stability, security, prosperity and sustainable development of the region, based on the promotion of democracy, rule of law, human rights and international law,” Astuto told ThePrint in an interview.

On whether coming out with this strategy will alter the EU’s relationship with China, the envoy said, “The EU strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific is consistent with the EU’s 2019 Strategic Outlook on China. It is pragmatic, flexible and multi-faceted, allowing the EU to adapt and build its cooperation where it can find common ground, while upholding its interests and values. Thus, there continue to be opportunities for cooperation with China in such areas as climate change and other specific policy areas, based on mutual interest.”

India and the EU are expected to discuss the Indo-Pacific strategy and how to integrate both sides further under this strategic framework as countries begin to stand up against China’s increasing belligerent stance in the maritime domain, diplomatic sources told ThePrint.

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