EU Foreign Affairs Chief Josep Borrell made the comments among a group of German diplomats on Monday.
“Analysts have long talked about the end of an American-led system and the arrival of an Asian century. This is now happening in front of our eyes,” he said.
The EU’s top diplomat further indicated that the “pressure to choose sides is growing” on Brussels.
“We need a more robust strategy for China, which also requires better relations with the rest of democratic Asia,” he added.
Borrell previously pushed for a more collective discipline towards China in an article published in many European newspapers earlier this month.
According to The Guardian, “daily EU imports from China amount to €1bn (£895m), but economists say there are already signs that some trade is not returning.”
As put by Andrew Small, an associate senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank, the bloc “benefited from the contrast that many Europeans drew between China and Russia. In this view, whereas Russia was actively hostile to the EU, China only sought to stymie European unity on a set of narrowly Sinocentric issues; whereas Russia thrived on chaos, China could be relied on as a status quo actor during crises; and whereas Russia pumped out disinformation, targeted European citizens, and sought to bring populists to power, China focused on positive image management and behind-the-scenes elite capture.”
Margrethe Vestager, the EU competition commissioner, has also stressed the need for Europe “to be more assertive and confident about who we are.”
“In the part of west Denmark in which I grew up, we were taught that if you invite a guest to dinner and they do not invite you back, you stop inviting them,” she said.
This is while under President Donald Trump, the US has been taking on China amid the covid-19 pandemic, pushing the two superpowers towards and imminent cold war.