BEIJING — China expressed dismay Thursday after Germany’s foreign minister said Beijing should not “attempt to divide us” following complaints China uses its status as an investor to influence European Union decisions.
The comment by Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel comes amid rising European complaints about Chinese market access, steel and other issues. Germany is increasingly vocal in pushing Beijing to resolve complaints it is violating its market-opening pledges.
“We are shocked by Mr. Gabriel’s remarks,” said a foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, at a regular news briefing.
“We hope that he can clarify that what he means by ‘one Europe,’ and whether there is a consensus on ‘one Europe’ among EU members,” said Hua. “We hope and believe his remark about China’s attempt to split Europe does not represent most European people’s thinking.”
During a visit to Paris on Wednesday, Gabriel called for a common European stance on China and said Beijing “should have a ‘one Europe’ policy that doesn’t attempt to divide us.”
Gabriel gave no details, but some European officials complain Beijing uses its status as a major investor in smaller European countries to gain their support in European Union matters.
Greece blocked an EU statement in June that criticized China’s human rights record and Hungary, where China is a major investor, has blocked other statements.
European officials also complain Beijing has tried to blunt a common European response on trade disputes by offering concessions to individual governments.