CHINA’S CHARM OFFENSIVE IN EUROPE ZAPPED BY HK REPRESSION, 5G REJECTION
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is lobbying his European counterparts for support amid a geopolitical spat with the United States, but he has been met with concerns over human rights and 5G technology security, Kinling Lo reported for the South China Morning Post (SCMP) on August 27, 2020.
Wang arrived in the Netherlands on Wednesday after beginning his first European tour of the pandemic era in Italy on Tuesday, when he met Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio. His week-long trip will continue with stops in Norway, France and Germany. On his visit to Italy, Wang warned the country to stay away from the “new cold war” that he said the US was trying to promote, and to instead to focus on economic cooperation with China. Wang also applauded Italy for showing “understanding and support” towards Beijing’s “core interests and major issues”.
While Di Maio said Italy and China needed to forge closer ties, he also gave Wang a stern warning that China ought to respect Hong Kong citizens’ freedom of speech – signalling the European Union’s continued disapproval of the national security law Beijing imposed on the city. Wang’s visit follows criticism of Beijing in Europe over its handling of the coronavirus as well as China’s hardline policy in Hong Kong. More European countries are also rejecting Chinese 5G technology.
Beijing has rejected claims that it covered up the pandemic after the first outbreak was recorded in China and denied security concerns related to its technology development. It has also deemed international concerns about the erosion of autonomy in Hong Kong an intervention in its internal affairs.