April 04, 2021

Biden Woos EU to Break Eurasian Connectivity

B Arjun

THE inevitable integration of the Eurasian supercontinent is one of the most enduring realities of the ongoing century. The coming together of China and the European Union (EU) and Russo-German collaboration on building a pipeline to usher in the multi-polar world order is a nightmare that continues to haunt American strategic elite.

The Biden administration wants its partner countries to offer a combined challenge to both Russia and China. America sees the two continental powers as a threat to its maritime empire and it wants to foreclose all possibilities of Germany, the third big continental power, from strengthening the land-powers in international politics.

America is fast realising that it cannot control the world by pounding some part of it, every now and then. It has to develop more peaceful ways to engage with the world. In line with this thinking, President Joe Biden has suggested to Britain’s prime minister Johnson for coming up with an initiative similar to Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a Chinese-led initiative that is connecting Asia with Europe through rail and road networks.  

America is especially perturbed because China replaced America as the EU’s biggest trading partner in 2020. In December last year, both the EU and China agreed on an investment deal, which contained the “most ambitious outcomes that China has ever agreed with a third country”. Moreover, despite tremendous American pressure, France and Germany are not fully committed to excluding the Chinese company Huawei from its 5G connectivity plans.

The world is in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution guided by artificial intelligence and robotics. China is a shade ahead of America and Europe in terms of the development of new-age technologies. The Chinese are spending huge sums on the research and development of 5G technologies. One of the primary focus areas in China’s 14th five-year plans is advanced technologies as it desires to be the most innovative nations globally, by 2035. It wants maximum penetration of 5G technology amongst its population and moves towards mastering the 6G technology by 2030. Such massive strides by the Chinese leadership have upset the American elite who intend to preserve their imperial privileges. As far as America is concerned its technology is clean and free and the Chinese 5G is a part of its techno-authoritarian ideology that it is exporting around the world.

While the former US president, Donald Trump had done everything to push the EU closer to China, the Biden administration wants to rejuvenate the old transatlantic connect. In a joint statement, issued after the recently concluded dialogue between Antony Blinken and Josep Borrell, EU’s representative for foreign affairs, “acknowledged a shared understanding that relations with China are multifaceted, comprising elements of cooperation, competition, and systemic rivalry.”

Biden’s foreign policy is to confront and compete with China on two fronts - Atlantic and Indo-Pacific. It is not interested in reviving the defunct Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a relic of the industrial era.

Biden seeks Brussels’ support to halt Beijing’s great leap forward in shaping the global norms and standards for the digital space. America wants the European Union to completely decouple from the Chinese 5G and remain networked with America.

Biden is employing the cold war-style ideological tools to distance its allies from China. His administration is extensively employing the rhetoric of democracy to gather like-minded countries. It is contemplating the establishment of “Democracy 10” which combines G7 countries with South Korea, India, and Australia to coordinate on global 5G standards and secure supply chains.

EU has appeased America by imposing sanctions against China over alleged human rights abuses on the Uyghurs in Xinjiang. China has responded by sanctioning ten individuals and four entities on the EU side for harming China's sovereignty and spreading disinformation. In the wake of these sanctions and counter-sanctions, many expect the China-EU relations to deteriorate. However, the fact is that pinpricks and displays of idealism are expected to move in tandem with the pragmatism that the EU is exercising in its economic policymaking vis-a-vis China.  


5G is not the sole concern of America, just as it wants to create a Sino-Russian rift, it also intends to keep Germany away from the two continental powers. In order to hurt Russia, America is targeting the Nord Stream 2, an undersea pipeline project that intends to bring natural gas via the Baltic Sea to Germany, bypassing Ukraine and Poland. The 1,230 kilometres long pipeline is owned by Gazprom and co-financed by five European companies (France’s Engie, Austria’s OMV, the Dutch-British Shell, and the German Uniper and Wintershall); its political ownership resides in Berlin. The project is 94 per cent complete, with over 1,000 kilometres of the pipeline already in place.

Antony Blinken, US secretary of state, has cautioned Germany from participating in the project. Blinken considers the project to be part of the Russian geopolitical game to “divide Europe and weaken European energy security”. He warned the countries involved to abandon the work on Nord Stream 2 or face targeted US sanctions. It was reported that the German government had offered the Trump administration financial support of up to $1.21 billion through the import of liquid gas from the US, to prevent Washington from imposing sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

The Biden administration’s foreign policy is to inform the world that America is back to its old ways, preaching allies and bombing adversaries. The American insistence on blocking a pipeline project that is crucial for German energy security is fundamentally flawed. On one hand, America is asking for German help to tackle China and on the other hand, it is threatening sanctions against Berlin for collaborating with Russia. Biden’s two-front policy of simultaneously tackling Russia and China through European support is ambitious, especially because America doesn’t have schemes to offer for economically uplifting the EU.

America cannot dissuade its allies from collaborating with China because its own economy is intricately linked to China. A total ban on US companies from doing business with Chinese giants like Huawei is not feasible as the two economies are intricately linked. Huawei’s 5G technology is dependent on many chips from both UK and the USA. One of the main reasons advanced during the Brexit campaign was to free UK from the rules imposed by the EU that restricted it from independently pursuing markets like China and India.