September 22, 2022
This article was originally published by Chinasquare on September 21, 2022.
In her annual speech (State of the Union), the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, further sharpened the relationship between the EU and China. She noted that democracy in the EU is under threat as hostile countries, notably Russia and China, fund organizations within the EU to carry out propaganda. She announced a package to defend democracy.
von der Leyen had, unfortunately, constructed her entire speech from a negative perspective. A significant part was devoted to the war in Ukraine. It is certainly true that this has a strong negative effect on the lives of EU citizens, but instead of going into the background of this conflict and the possibilities of ending this war as soon as possible, she turned her focus on the enemy who would be the only cause of all this evil: Russia.
From this enemy mindset, she moved on to another alleged enemy of the EU, China, whose influence is less intense, but which the EU must defend itself against in order to prevent China’s influence from increasing further. Her argument was initially quite practical: to secure the supply of rare earth metals from which China dominates the world market. That in itself shouldn’t be a problem, but apparently, von der Leyen doesn’t trust China, making that country a potential danger. Imagine if China cut that supply.
Then von der Leyen’s speech reached its lowest point. She urged to strengthen and defend democracy in the EU. This, she says, is in danger, because hostile powers fund institutions in Europe to make propaganda for them from within. As an example, she mentioned that earlier this year ‘a university in Amsterdam’ closed an institute that did research into human rights with money from China. This work, according to von der Leyen, is toxic to our democracy. She then announced a package to defend democracy.
The way in which von der Leyen reports this event shows that she has not made the effort to delve into this file. The Cross-Cultural Human Rights Center (CCHRC) is a network of universities and scientists from China, Africa and the Caribbean. Founded in Beijing in 2014, the CCHRC aims to increase dialogue on human rights among scientists from around the world. In doing so, she draws particular attention to human rights concepts and ideas that have been developed in southern countries, such as China and Africa.
One of the participating universities, China’s Southwest University of Politics & Law (SWUPL), has made an amount available for a number of years to co-finance the Centre’s activities. This is a normal construct and criticism of it is based only on the common misconceptions about China. For example, SWUPL is automatically seen as a representative of the Chinese government and therefore funding from SWUPL as funding from the Chinese government.
Even more serious is the fact that von der Leyen fails to mention that an independent commission of inquiry found no evidence that individual researchers at the CCHRC had their views influenced or “bought,” or that self-censorship had occurred under pressure from Chinese financiers. All publications by CCHRC staff are the results of their own research, conducted in their own academic paradigm. Chinasquare has already commented extensively on this.
von der Leyen apparently assumes that there is only one generally recognized definition of democracy. However, the world has been moving towards a multipolar situation for some time now. That is a new world order consisting of different blocks based on different sets of basic cultural values. Based on this, each block develops its own institutional structure, including its own version of democracy.
My contribution to the research of the CCHRC focuses on this cultural diversity in democracy. I have already posted a contribution about this on Chinasquare. A more complete English version can be found on the site of the Transnational Foundation for Peace & Future Research (TFF). This is an academic article, so I welcome critical comments. Unlike Mrs von der Leyen who thinks she has a monopoly on the truth.
Role of the EU
And what next? In my opinion, the EU can only play a role in world politics if it acts as a separate political bloc, separate from the US. However, von der Leyen mentions Joe Biden by name and thus seems to indicate that the EU will continue to follow the US faithfully as far as it is concerned.
Therefore, the enemies of the US are also those of the EU: Russia and China first of all. This view is really toxic for the EU. The Chinese government has already referred to this speech as ‘war provocation’. Hereby she has again closed the EU door to China.
The editor’s note
Ursula von der Leyen was dressed in Ukrainian colours when giving her State of the Union speech with Ukraine’s First Lady next to her. Dressing in uniform on the outside is likely to mean that there is only banal uniform thinking on the inside – or no thinking. The Emperor’s blue and yellow clothes.
My comment has nothing to do with Ukraine, it’s about a woman and a Union that has no idea about peace-making, only about militarism – and would not even be able to spell the word ‘peace’.
And that is the EU that got the Nobel Peace Prize?
Some of us protested already then…