A week of small developments: Roundup on Four Pillars

Sep 17, 2023News

While there were no major events this week, there were still a handful of developments in the space of the Four Pillars. Let us visit them in this segment:

European Commission President and BGF 2020 World Leader for Peace and Security Award recipient Ursula von der Leyen launched an investigation into Chinese electric vehicles. Critics deride this move as a protectionist hindrance and one backed by the European auto industry, but it is worth noting that Chinese EVs have been heavily subsidized by the government. This investigation could also invite retaliation from Beijing. This move should be seen in the light of rising tensions and distrust between the EU and China, as the Union seeks to develop a plan to move away from dependence with the East Asian power.

Furthermore, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock labeled Xi Jinping as “dictator,” adding that Europe must cut down on its dependence with China – not fully de-couple, but de-risk. In an interview with Bloomberg, she backed the Commission’s investigation into the Chinese EVs subsidies.

Remember the Chinese Spy Balloon incident in February this year? It is now reported that China has suspended its spy balloon program after the incident, which led Anthony Blinken to cancel his visit. It is unclear how long this suspension will last though, if it is merely a token concession as the program becomes public knowledge. In the same vein, it is revealed that the balloon was not intentionally flying over continental North America, but rather its target was Hawaii. And once the US was made aware of its presence, it was no longer capable of sending data back due to jamming.

There is a development worth keeping an eye on: the “disappearance” of two Chinese cabinet ministers in recent months. Foreign minister Qin Gang mysteriously disappeared and was replaced this summer. Less than two months later, the defense minister Li Shangfu met a similar fate. It appears that Xi’s grip on the state apparatus in China is tightening even further, perhaps in anticipation of an invasion of Taiwan.

Minh Nguyen

Read more about these topics:

  • [Politico EU] Von der Leyen hits China with electric vehicle subsidy probe
  • [The Telegraph] Brussels launches fightback against cheap Chinese electric cars flooding Europe
  • [Politico EU] Germany’s Baerbock calls China’s Xi Jinping a dictator
  • [Bloomberg] Europe Must Cut Down on Its Dependence With China, Baerbock Says
  • [CNN] China appears to have suspended spy balloon program after February shootdown, US intel believes
  • [CBS News] The bizarre secret behind China’s spy balloon
  • [Financial Times] Then there were two: disappearance of second Chinese minister sparks speculation

Credit: Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg | Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, highlighted the threat Chinese auto subsidies pose to EU manufacturing