The European Union struggled to agree on a joint statement in response to the South China Sea, Euractiv reports:
Diplomats said today [14 July] that the effort to adopt a common statement following the 12 July ruling were likely to fail, as at least two countries had opposed the draft declaration. The draft statement says that the ruling of the Hague court should be respected.
“It is about upholding international law,” a diplomat said.
Another diplomat commented, “Some countries don’t want to annoy China.” This may be true for Greece and Hungary, but Croatia has its own reasons to keep its distance from rulings on arbitral tribunals, in light of its own conflict with Slovenia, over Piran Bay.
The Chinese Shipping company Cosco Holding Co. is expected to invest more than half a billion euros in the Greek Port of Piraeus within the next five years. The deal, transferring a 67% stake in the port to Cosco, has been years in the making and was approved by a large majority in Greece’s parliament two weeks ago.
For those wondering why China keeps on building seemingly without much hesitation, the inability of the West to show a united front is surely something to note. It isn’t just the dithering of the United States that emboldens Beijing—Europe’s even greater lack of resolve matters too.
Alas, this is the sorry state of the European Union these days. Angling for trade deals and investments, government officials and business leaders are willing to kowtow to Beijing and Moscow even when it requires abandoning the principles—freedom of navigation, rule of law—of liberal world order.