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China, Europe must jointly stop Pompeo from damaging global stability

By Chen Weihua | China Daily | Updated: 2020-08-28 07:56
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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to reporters in New York, on Aug 20, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

During the first leg of his five European nation tour in Italy on Tuesday, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China does not intend to engage in a so-called new Cold War with the United States, one that is intended to reverse the course of history and hold people around the world to ransom.

This outright rejection and warning come at a right time.

Europe was a major victim of the Cold War when the continent was carved into two camps and Germany was divided. In fact, 30 years after the end of the Cold War, its legacy still haunts Europe as seen in the divide in Eastern and Western Europe's politics.

Over the past months, Europeans have made it clear they reject US politicians' efforts to push them back into a confrontational world. For example, major European countries, such as the United Kingdom, France and Germany, have said the US has no legal right to trigger "snapback" sanctions on Iran after withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, in May 2018. The European countries were responding to the US' controversial move in the UN Security Council to reinstate UN sanctions against Teheran.

Last week, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the JCPOA remains a key pillar of the global nonproliferation architecture, contributing to regional security, and he will do everything possible to ensure the deal is fully implemented. Borrell's assertion came despite the US renewing its threat to sanction companies that continue to do business with Iran-similar to its threat against European countries doing business with Iran under the "Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges", a special purpose vehicle created by several European countries to bypass US sanctions.

Back in June, Borrell called the US sanctions against those involved in the work of the International Criminal Court, its staff and their families, as well as people associated with the ICC "unacceptable and unprecedented in scope and content", and voiced unwavering support for The Hague-based ICC.

The latest European outcry against the US came after several US senators in an Aug 5 letter threatened the owners of a German Baltic Sea port with "crushing legal and economic sanctions" if they continue to work on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline linking Germany with Russia. The US has issued similar threats to European companies working on the Turk Stream pipeline linking Turkey and Russia.

The Germans are furious at the letter and have called for retaliation. Frank Kracht, the mayor of the German port city Sassnitz, told the media that the US senators "have no right to influence the sovereignty of our city or our state, and the sovereignty of our federal republic, or of Europe with such letters". And German Green representative Jurgen Trittin, a former federal minister for the environment, has called the US threats an "economic declaration of war".

The EU has long denounced such extraterritorial sanctions by the US a gross abuse of its outsized financial power. In a July 17 statement, Borrell expressed deep concern over the growing use of sanctions, or the threat of using sanctions, by the US against European companies and interests.

Unlike the US, China and the current EU leadership both agree that sanctions or the threat of sanctions are not the right way to resolve differences. As major upholders of multilateralism and defenders of global institutions, China and European countries are the vital players that can bring to naught the so-called new Cold War fantasy of some US politicians, especially Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Wang's visit to Europe is a great opportunity for China and European countries to frankly address their differences, while focusing on expanding cooperation that is so much needed in a world hit by the novel coronavirus pandemic and consequently economic recession, and seriously affected by years of US unilateralism and protectionism.

The author is chief of China Daily EU Bureau based in Brussels.

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