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Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping stated that China doesn't think one should "talk down" or "short" to Europe on the eve of his visit to the continent. Obviously, this is not just diplomatic language. Neither the Chinese government nor the Chinese people want to see Europe fail.|
Most Chinese know that Europe is in a debt crisis at the moment and wants to borrow money from China. They also know that the social welfare in Europe is good and some people there have become a bit lazy.
But Europe still leads in many fields. If Europe does not deliberately pick on China in politics, generally Chinese people are full of respect and admiration for the continent. People seldom associate Europe with geopolitical competition.
If you ask ordinary Chinese whether they want to see a prosperous or a collapsing Europe, most Chinese probably would be at a loss about the question. Some Europeans might be willing to see China collapse. But few Chinese have the same wish for Europe.
Many Chinese who are familiar with international politics hope the EU can become stronger and think a stronger EU is in China's interest. It will be beneficial to the multipolar development of the world and help counter US over-precautions against China's rise.
Europe is the geographically furthest of the world's strategic powers from China, and most Chinese sincerely believe that Europe has no conflict of interests with China and that China and Europe can be friends.
For the same reason, many Chinese feel confused about Europe's exerting political pressure on China, particularly when the attacks are from small countries. Chinese people perceive these countries as acting above their station.
Since China has been offended by Europe several times, Chinese society now is a little uneasy and feels that Europe lacks sincerity in developing friendly relationship with China. It expresses goodwill when it needs China's help. Otherwise, it will become less friendly. At present, some people worry that if China lends money to Europe to save it from the crisis, Europe might bite the hand that feeds it.
These public emotions obviously affect China's policy toward Europe. Like French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel's consideration of their people's opinion in making policies regarding China, today's Chinese government also needs to take public opinion into consideration in its own decision-making. The power of public opinion is growing increasingly strong in China.
We understand Europe's appreciation of and persistence in its values, particularly when Europe is in relative decline. But it needs to be clear that China is a country of deep culture and unity.
When Europe attacks the Chinese government, it cannot avoid offending the whole country. It just deceives itself as well as others if it tries to differentiate between the Chinese authorities from the people.
In the present relations among big powers, economic relations and interests weigh a lot, which to a great extent relies on ordinary people from both sides.
Currently, official diplomacy frequently serves to smooth communication between people from different countries. What the government can do at present in this regard is much less than in the pre-globalization period. In this context, it is disastrous to exaggerate the irrational political appeals of the public and make them official gestures.
The Sino-European relationship is mutually beneficial with both parties standing as equals. The effect of increasing or decreasing cooperation between the two sides is almost the same for both.
Therefore, if Europe finds political flaws in China again in the future, its attacks on China will eventually rebound on itself. The debt crisis is a temporary difficulty for Europe. But in the long run it needs China like China needs it.
Don't make Chinese society hesitate in its policies toward European debt for non-economic reasons. If Europe is rational, it should not overindulge itself. European nations should respect China's bottom-line.
This article is an editorial from the Chinese edition of the Global Times Tuesday.