Interview: EU’s top China hawk calls German firms «lobbyists» for Beijing

The leader of the European Parliament’s first official delegation to Taiwan tells Axios” Zach Basu the EU is slowly waking up to the threat posed by the Chinese government — but is held back by companies, particularly in Germany, that act as «lobbyists» for Beijing.

Driving the news: Raphaël Glucksmann, a French human rights activist who has quickly become one of Europe’s most influential voices on China, told Axios in a wide-ranging interview that he is seeking to «break the taboo inside the European institutions» on engaging with Taiwan.

  • Glucksmann, 42, dismissed the notion that this month’s visit— which drew a stern warning from Beijing — was a «provocation,» and he argued that stronger EU support for Taiwanese democracy will actually deter China from launching an invasion.
  • «We should not be terrorized and paralyzed by the fear of authoritarian regimes” reactions to our policies,» Glucksmann stressed.

Flashback: Glucksmann and four fellow European parliamentarians were placed on Beijing’s sanctions blacklist in March for their advocacy over the genocide in Xinjiang.

  • In response, the European Parliament voted overwhelminglyto freeze ratification of a major EU-China investment deal.
  • Glucksmann says there’s «no chance» that deal will ever be passed, and he’s pushing for the EU to upgrade its trade ties with Taiwan in its place.
  • In the interview,Glucksmann warned that if the EU’s executive branch wants to be «chickenshit on Taiwan,» the European Parliament will hold it accountable by refusing to ratify other trade priorities.

Glucksmann says one major barrier to stronger European action on China is Germany, where he says political leaders have bet big on economic ties with China and companies like Volkswagen act as «ambassadors of Chinese interest.»

What to watch: Glucksmann said the EU’s policies toward China will determine whether it can be an «adult player» independent of the U.S.: «If we don’t manage to be stronger in our relation with China, then it means that Europe will remain weak forever.»

Go deeper: Europe’s China critics embrace Taiwan

Info photo: Raphaël Glucksmann


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