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Friday, September 7, 2018

China & Europe Must Work Together to Balance US-Created Chaos, says Former PM of France de Villepin

September 7, 2018. Shanghai – Former Prime Minister of France and faculty member at CEIBS Dominique de Villepin today told a group of Chinese academics that it is vital for Europe and China to work together to balance the “chaos” being caused by the policies of US President Donald Trump. He also warned that waiting for the US to revert to its pre-Trump approach on how it engages with China is a “big mistake” as America’s strategy of containing China’s rise has support beyond the current administration. 

The strategy of today’s America, he said, is based on “taking advantage of chaos, pitting one against another, divide and diminish”. It is based, he added, on the premise that anyone who competes with the US is an enemy on the grounds of national security. “This is the new law in the international community and it will not change when Trump goes,” he said. 

He was speaking at a seminar hosted by the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (SIIS) and China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), China’s leading international business school. Mr. de Villepin, who is Distinguished Professor and Chairman of the International Advisory Board at CEIBS, is in Shanghai for five days of lectures and speeches with the school’s faculty, students and alumni. Today’s event at SIIS was a high-level discussion with academics from a number of leading business schools with topics ranging from China-EU relations, Iran, North Korea, Syria, the Middle East, and more. The US’ impact on global affairs was a common thread throughout, and one on which there appeared to be a general consensus. However some questioned whether Prof. de Villepin’s views on China-EU relations were widely shared across Europe.  

He had a well-argued case, beginning by presenting an overview of the current global environment, telling his audience that we are in an age of division and volatility. He made the point that it is now a “historic time of risk in Europe”, meanwhile US unilateralism has destroyed many of the gains made in diplomacy over the last 10 years. These two elements, he said, have led to trust being shaken in the West. 

He also warned that the risk of war has never been higher than it is today, with economic confrontations fuelling tensions that the WTO has “done a poor job” of defusing; the battle for technological dominance; and the risk of direct confrontation that accompanies ballooning military budgets and nuclear proliferation. He spoke of China’s role as a “major pole of stability” in this troubled landscape, pointing to how the country’s rise has transformed global governance. “More influence has led to more responsibility for China in the international system,” said Prof. de Villepin. “It means diplomatic responsibility, economic and financial commitment and it also means climatic responsibility.”

He stressed that despite the gains it has made, China cannot, by itself, be the counterbalance to the “disruption” being caused by the US which appears to be having a “nervous breakdown”. “At one point rationality should win. We need China and Europe to stop thinking they can count on the US. They cannot. We need to take on our responsibility for now, while the US cannot,” he said. The outcome of ongoing negotiations with Iran, he told his audience, would be an indicator of how the US would approach the denuclearisation of North Korea and should therefore be keenly watched. He added that there will eventually be a price for the US’ current policies in the Middle East as there will be no way of stopping “the spiralling in the region”.

He ended his speech by outlining solid proposals on how China and the EU could work together to become the “cornerstone of new global order based on multilateralism”. Building on their common vision of peace and shared prosperity, what both sides now need to move their relationship to the next level, he said, was a new “backbone”. 

“Economic coordination must be driven by adapted structures fostering dialogue and understanding,” he stressed. Saying this year’s creation of a French-Chinese corporate Council is a step in the right direction, he argued that more needs to be done “to further develop tools of action focused on key issues like reciprocity, transparency and access to public markets”. France and China, he suggested, could create a public office for investment jointly ruled by both Presidencies to systematically address these matters. “I am also convinced we need to develop cooperation in implementing the Belt and Road Initiative. A permanent secretary could be created between Beijing and Brussels to discuss the best projects and synergies, for example between the AIIB and the European Bank of Investment,” he said. 

Prof. de Villepin also spoke of the importance of political and diplomatic coordination in building an alternative to unilateralism, repeating his previous calls for the creation of a G4 that would bring together Paris, Berlin, Beijing and Moscow.  

“At one point we need to send a strong message to the US that we are not going to be accepting such madness [like what we are seeing now], and I think the moment has come!” he said.


China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) is among the top international business schools in Asia, where it is the only business school to have simultaneously made it to the Financial Times’ top 30 list of MBA, EMBA and Executive Education programmes.

CEIBS has more than 20,000 alumni from more than 80 countries worldwide, and has provided a broad range of management programmes for more than 150,000 executives both at home and abroad. CEIBS’ faculty team is uniquely equipped to deliver a combination of China Depth and Global Breadth in both teaching and research.

CEIBS has campuses in Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen Zurich and Accra.

Charmaine N. Clarke