Saturday, October 18, 2003


BRUSSELS — The European Union is the world’s rising superpower, poised to overtake both the United States and Japan as the biggest trade and investment force in China, according to a strategic policy paper published by Beijing last week.

The Chinese government said the European Union is transforming the global landscape with its successful new currency and strides toward a joint foreign policy and a defense and judicial union.

Describing EU integration as “irreversible” in the paper released Monday, Beijing marveled at Europe’s 25 percent to 35 percent share of the global economy and its projected 450 million population once it expands into the former communist bloc next year.

The “white paper” follows a flurry of Sino-European ventures, including the Galileo global satellite system, described as a direct challenge to the American Global Positioning System monopoly in space.

The two sides are also working together on nuclear research.

France and Germany have been pushing hardest for closer ties with China, hoping to cash in on a lucrative market but also to develop a strategic alliance as a counterweight to American power after the diplomatic trauma of the Iraq war.

In June, French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie proposed sharing sensitive military technology with Beijing. She called for a softening of the arms embargo imposed on the country after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.

The Chinese already have the world’s second-largest defense budget, more than $17 billion annually, but they have to rely on outdated weaponry bought from Russia and Ukraine.

The white paper said the ever-closer military ties rendered the EU embargo a relic from the last century.

China’s efforts to court Brussels reflect a new mood of respect for the union across Asia.

India is also rushing to upgrade its ties with Europe, recruiting extra staff to lobby EU officials and members of the European Parliament.

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