Europe is in the nascent stages of a new debate about China. Last year, the
European Union published a strategic outlook paper in which it labelled China as a
“systemic rival”, reflecting a sharp change in its balance of assumptions about the
Sino-European relationship. The pandemic is tilting that balance further. This is
certainly not happening out of preference: European policymakers would rather
address the urgent health and economic challenges they face with geopolitical
competition largely suspended. Pragmatic cooperation with Beijing to secure
essential medical supplies remains at the top of the bilateral agenda for a number
of European countries, while the need to revive shell-shocked economies will drive
many of their decisions in the months ahead. But, even in the midst of the crisis,
China’s attempts to exploit political and economic vulnerabilities in Europe have
necessitated pushback – be it against disinformation campaigns or attempts to
target strategically important economic assets.

Full report here: https://www.ecfr.eu/page/-/the_meaning_of_systemic_rivalry_europe_and_china_beyond_the_pandemic.pdf