On 22 June 2023, United States Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and External Action Service Secretary General Stefano Sannino met for the fifth high-level meeting of the U.S.-EU Dialogue on China and the fourth meeting of the U.S.-EU High-Level Consultations on the Indo-Pacific.
Under Secretary Nuland and Secretary General Sannino discussed recent U.S. and EU engagements with China and the trajectory of their respective bilateral relationships. They stressed the importance of purposeful, results-oriented interactions and keeping open channels of communication with China. They reiterated that the U.S. and EU relations with China remain multifaceted and emphasised the need to calibrate approaches in light of China’s actions as well as the broader geopolitical context. Under Secretary Nuland and Secretary General Sannino reiterated openness to continued substantive engagement with China both in areas of common interest and on challenges where China has global responsibility.
They highlighted the need to strengthen economic resilience, including through work on de-risking, establishing a level-playing field for trade and investment, and to reduce risks from excessive dependencies in sectors such as critical minerals needed for a secure energy transition. They stressed concern about the use and threat of economic coercion, which undermines the international rules-based order and multilateral trading system, including the WTO. They stressed the importance of strengthened assessment, preparedness, resilience, deterrence, and responses to economic coercion, including of other partners, as agreed at the G7 Summit in Hiroshima on 19-21 May.
Under Secretary Nuland and Secretary General Sannino discussed China’s position on Russia’s illegal, unprovoked, and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine. They reaffirmed that direct or indirect support for Russia’s war efforts, including circumvention or undermining sanctions against Russia and arms transfers, would be met with a strong reaction and have consequences for our respective relationships with China. They exchanged information on each side’s message to China on the need for a complete and unconditional withdrawal of Russian troops from the entire territory of Ukraine in its internationally recognised borders as a key part of a just and lasting peace. They also discussed engaging China to use its influence with Russia constructively, notably with regards to children and prisoners of war, nuclear safety, and humanitarian support. At the same time, they expressed continued concern about China’s repeated and ongoing information manipulation, including amplification of pro-Kremlin disinformation and propaganda concerning Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, particularly in partner countries.
In this respect, they confirmed the need for improved global outreach to emphasise the importance of upholding the rules, values, and principles of the international system and international law, including the Purposes and Principles of the UN Charter. They discussed prospects for, and practical steps towards, deepening partnerships with emerging and developing economies, as well as for enhanced exchanges on our respective engagements.
On Taiwan, they underscored the overriding importance of maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait (the “Strait”), where the United States, the EU, and countries worldwide have clear interests, and regional and global security and prosperity are at stake. They expressed concern about the steady increase in People’s Liberation Army activities in the Strait. They reiterated their commitment to maintaining the status quo and their opposition to any unilateral actions from either side which undermine cross-Strait peace and stability. They stressed that any instability in the Strait resulting from escalation, accident, or use of force would have major economic and security implications for the region and globally. They called for the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues and reaffirmed that their long-standing basic positions on Taiwan remained unchanged, including their respective one China policies.
Under Secretary Nuland and Secretary General Sannino discussed the importance of continued close coordination on China’s human rights violations, both domestic and overseas. They committed to collaborate on countering China’s transnational repression tactics and measures, which target individuals around the globe.
Under Secretary Nuland and Secretary General Sannino also held the fourth high-level Consultations on the Indo-Pacific. They reiterated U.S.-EU shared commitment to enhancing coordination and cooperation in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific which is inclusive, prosperous, secure, based on the rule of law, and protects shared principles including sovereignty, territorial integrity and peaceful resolution of disputes, fundamental freedoms and human rights. They shared their respective assessments on several geopolitical trends shaping the situation in the Indo-Pacific, which call for enhanced engagement with partners in the region.
They reaffirmed the importance of U.S. and EU efforts on regional connectivity, notably in the framework of the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII) and the EU’s Global Gateway. They reviewed opportunities for cooperation and synergies offered by the U.S.-EU shared support to regional cross-border initiatives and committed to build on recent discussions on electricity market integration in South Asia and on port security and safety across the Indo-Pacific. They welcomed the recently signed memorandum of understanding between the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and the European Investment Bank (EIB), which will facilitate strategic investments including in the Indo-Pacific.
They welcomed the success of the first joint U.S.-EU naval exercise, conducted in March 2023. They intend to take new steps to advance practical maritime cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, including facilitating the EU’s involvement and participation in INDOPACOM’s naval exercises and planning conferences in the region. Given their shared commitment to enhancing maritime domain awareness in the Indo-Pacific, they also intend to establish further technical exchanges in this area, including on ways to ensure maximum complementarity between the U.S. SeaVision and the EU-funded IORIS systems.
They reaffirmed plans to continue to safeguard against and respond to foreign information manipulation and interference, including in the Indo-Pacific, through coordinated, complementary programming and information exchanges on best practices in supporting free and resilient media environments. They further assessed the threats posed by widespread use of information manipulation.
Under Secretary Nuland and Secretary General Sannino stressed the importance of increasing coordination on cyber cooperation with the Indo-Pacific region. They intend to initiate dedicated efforts under the annual U.S.-EU Cyber Dialogue to foster joint actions related to cyberspace issues in the Indo-Pacific via activities supporting cyber capacity-building and confidence building measures, including in the context of the ASEAN Regional Forum.
They also emphasised the importance of encouraging ongoing efforts in the region to end discrimination and violence against people on the grounds of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics, in order to advance the human rights of LGBTIQ+ persons.
Under Secretary Nuland and Secretary General Sannino reaffirmed the intent of the U.S. Department of State and the European External Action Service to continue their close coordination on China and the Indo-Pacific and hold the next rounds of the Dialogue on China and High-Level Consultations on the Indo-Pacific in Washington, D.C. before the end of 2023.
EEAS Secretary General Sannino recalled his close cooperation with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman as they co-chaired the U.S.-EU Dialogue on China, the U.S.-EU High-Level Consultations on the Indo-Pacific and other areas of foreign policy over the course of the past two years. Ahead of Deputy Secretary Sherman’s retirement from the U.S. Department of State, Secretary General Sannino expressed his warm congratulations and deep gratitude for the Deputy Secretary’s dedication to advancing the transatlantic relationship throughout her remarkable career. Secretary General Sannino highlighted Deputy Secretary Sherman’s tireless commitment to working with the European Union in response to shared foreign policy priorities and global challenges. Secretary General Sannino thanked Deputy Secretary Sherman personally for her friendship and cooperation, and underlined that her leadership had been key in advancing the U.S.-EU partnership.