Borrell, Persona Non Grata for Beijing

Beijing unilaterally canceled the visit to Beijing by EU High Representative Josep Borrell.

At the last moment and without explanation – the worst of the “insults” in the hierarchy of diplomatic symbols – China unilaterally canceled a visit to Beijing by EU High Representative Josep Borrell. The head of European diplomacy was supposed to discuss the development of a “bilateral strategic dialogue” between the European Union and China on July 10 with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gan.

“The Chinese authorities, unfortunately, have informed us that the already set visit dates are no longer feasible and that an alternative must now be sought,” EU spokesperson Nabila Massrali said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning emphasized that “she has no information regarding a possible visit by Borrell in the future.”

According to Chinese media reports, “Qin Gang didn’t really like” the agenda of the talks in Beijing proposed to the Chinese colleague by Borrell’s office. On July 2, EU Ambassador to Beijing Jorge Toledo said that Borrell would like to discuss some sensitive issues with his Chinese partners, from “protecting human rights in China to Beijing’s position on the armed conflict in Ukraine.” In addition, Borrell insisted on the need to balance trade between the EU and China.

A month ago, the G7 countries (US, Canada, Germany, UK, France, and Japan) proposed that China put pressure on Russia to “completely and unconditionally withdraw” its troops from Ukraine and, in very unequivocal terms, support a “comprehensive, fair, and lasting peace.”

For its part, China has repeatedly asked the West not to interfere in relations between Beijing and Moscow. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin stated that “China has always taken a fair, objective, and impartial position on Ukraine.”

Tensions between Beijing and Brussels escalated after the European Union dismissed as “misplaced” the Chinese peace plan on Ukraine presented in May last year during the European tour of China’s special envoy for Eurasian affairs, Li Hui.

For Beijing, China’s peace plan for Ukraine “stands in glaring contrast to the practice of a number of countries that apply double standards and continue fanning the flame.”

Despite the pressure from the US and Europe, China has not joined Western sanctions against Russia. At the same time, Beijing did not recognize the Crimea, Donbass, Zaporozhye, and Kherson regions as integral parts of Russia.