Gordon Sondland, US ambassador to the European Union, said China’s influence was “malign” and the US and EU should join forces and overcome their current trade tensions. He recommended they combine “mutual energies” and take on the East Asian nation on three fronts: economically, from an intelligence standpoint and militarily. But the USA and EU are currently locked in a trade war with little hope of progress.
In an interview with political website Politico, Mr Sondland said: “We should … combine our mutual energies — we have a $40 trillion combined GDP, there is nothing on the planet that is more powerful than that — to meet China and check China in multiple respects: economically, from an intelligence standpoint, militarily.
“That’s where the EU and US really should be linking arms.”
He also advocated for “a quick resolution that would move our trade relationship in the right direction so that we can both turn toward China, which is really the future problem in multiple respects.”
This is not the first time a EU-US pact against China has been discussed, with French President Emmanuel Macron proposing the same idea to Washington last year.
In a visit to the White House, Mr Macron called for joint action against Chinese trade practices such as heavy subsidies, forced technology transfer and state-owned enterprises.
However, tensions currently exist between the bloc and America as they negotiate a trade agreement.
Mr Trump and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker reached a truce in July and last month both sides delivered negotiating objectives for a planned trade deal.
But insiders believe current negotiations between Europe and America are reaching a stalemate due to the two sides taking very different positions.
The US seeks greater access to EU agricultural markets while Brussels is keen to leave food out of the talks.
On the other side of the negotiating table, Brussels wants tariffs on industrial goods, including the 25 per cent tariff on European cars, to be scrapped but the Americans see this as a red line issue.
But progress is being hampered by their failure to reach agreement over these two issues.
Mr Sondland said the US is eager to avoid escalation but added that its “patience is not unlimited”.
The US ambassador linked his criticism of Beijing’s practices to the case of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, which is the main target of a US campaign advising Europeans not to use Chinese companies when building their 5G networks.
He said: “We want to keep critical infrastructure in the Western world out of Chinese malign influence.
“Someone from the Politburo in Beijing picks up the phone and says ‘I wanna listen in on the following conversation, I wanna run a certain car off the road that’s on the 5G network and kill the person that’s in it,’ there’s nothing that company legally can do today in China to prevent the Chinese government from making that request successfully.”
Huawei rejects the allegations and insists the company “has a clean track record on cybersecurity” and is “committed to work with European institutions to develop a cybersecurity standard for Europe”.