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3/18/17

EU - China Relations: America First' Trump Play Opens Door for EU-China Trade Detente - by V

Donald Trump is forcing the European Union and China to decide how willing they are to set aside trade tensions that go back decades.

As the U.S. president pushes his mantra of “America First,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping are taking almost every opportunity to affirm their commitment to free trade. Just last week, they agreed on a phone call “to continue their trusting cooperation” on open markets.

The challenge, say trade officials, will be using those warm words to overcome knotty issues that have soured China-EU relations for years. Just over a decade ago, the so-called Bra Wars highlighted European angst about cheap Chinese textiles undercutting domestic manufacturers, and tensions continue to simmer over solar power, steel and even bicycles. Meanwhile, populist groups like Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France are running for election on an anti-free trade ticket.

“There are still many obstacles to cooperation,” said Wang Yiwei, a professor of International Relations at Renmin University in Beijing and a former Chinese trade official in Europe. “We don’t look to Europe to balance the United States, but we can hope that Europe might help with the kind of American unilateralism or its tendency to do whatever it pleases that we’ve seen in the past.”

Read more: 'America First' Trump Play Opens Door for EU-China Trade Detente - Bloomberg

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