- Emmanuel Macron’s EU presidency
- Income tax: changes postponed
- SOEs must protect climate
- Central bank provides money for green projects
- Xi’an punishes officials for Covid outbreak
- Diplomat advises against ‘Taiwan office’
- IOC: Human rights activists demand Bach’s resignation
- Obituary of sinologist Jonathan Spence
The new German government has set a clear direction for its relations with China: Germany’s approach is to become more European. So it is rather fitting that France, Germany’s closest partner, took over the EU Council presidency at the turn of the year.
Amelie Richter took a closer look at the French leader’s agenda for Europe and discovered: Even if Emmanuel Macron wants to set an Indo-Pacific focus and China is not explicitly at the top of the list, there will be no way to avoid the People’s Republic. Aside from strategic decisions, there are also important personnel decisions to be made.
China’s opening up policy has a rather bad reputation right now. But things can work differently. Just at the turn of the year, the Chinese State Council gave all foreign employees in China an unexpected present: The planned tax law change was postponed for a year. Finn Mayer-Kuckuk has analyzed the situation. In times of almost completely shut borders, the postponement is an unexpected offer of cooperation to the international business community.
Last but not least, I would like to bring your attention to an obituary. Jonathan D. Spence passed away during the Christmas holidays at the age of 85. He was one of the world’s most renowned sinologists, and presumably almost everyone interested in China has at least one of his books on their shelf. In today’s briefing we also take a look at what characterized his works on China.
I hope you enjoy today’s briefing!
France’s EU Presidency cannot get past China
New year, new EU Council presidency: On January 1, Paris took over the leadership of the body of heads of state and government. In the French capital, even the Eiffel Tower carried the EU flag to mark the occasion. After the relatively weak and disputed Slovenian presidency under the controversial Prime Minister Janez Janša, France’s head of state Emmanuel Macron is now taking over. Expectations are high, as the 44-year-old started the French presidency with a clear European focus. Three main pillars are to shape the next six months: “Relance, puissance, appartenance” – “recovery, strength, sense of belonging”.
While China may not be at the top of the agenda, the current trade dispute with Lithuania inevitably shifts the EU’s relationship with the People’s Republic into focus. The EU also continues to struggle to find a common line for the upcoming Winter Olympics. The domestic agenda also has the upcoming French presidential election in April – so France is starting with a full agenda.
The first three months of the year will be particularly intense for Paris, says researcher Antoine Bondaz, who focuses on China and Asia for the French think tank Fondation pour la recherche stratégique (FRS). From April onwards, it will become increasingly difficult to plan events with high-ranking representatives. The election campaign in France follows soon afterward. Foreign policy has so far played a minor role in the race for France’s highest office. The debate is dominated by migration and Covid policy.