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FirstFT: EU ministers advised to take tougher line on China

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The EU must toughen up against China and see the country as an all-out competitor with limited areas of potential engagement, the bloc’s ministers have been advised ahead of talks on recalibrating Brussels’ strategy towards Beijing.

The bloc should work more closely with the US, strengthen cyber and hybrid threat defences, diversify supply chains away from China and deepen ties with Indo-Pacific powers, according to a paper from the EU’s foreign service.

“China has become an even stronger global competitor for the EU, the US and other like-minded partners,” said the paper, seen by the Financial Times. “It is therefore essential to assess how best to respond to current and foreseeable challenges.” These are likely to “widen the divergence between China’s and our own political choices and positions”.

The assessment “admits that China is not going to change”, said a senior EU official. “In short, moving to a logic of all-out competition, economically but also politically.”

The paper underscores a significant souring of the EU-China relationship, marked by trade disputes, tit-for-tat sanctions and failure to find areas of mutual agreement.

“This is the moment to assess . . . And see if our policy is the right one,” said a second senior EU official. “We have to factor in the serious events that have happened over the past year.”

Thanks for reading FirstFT Europe/Africa. Here is the rest of today’s news — Will

1. Union leader warns of biggest NHS strikes since 1980s Christina McAnea, general secretary of Unison, Britain’s biggest union, has warned that the largest nationwide strike by NHS workers since the early 1980s could hit health services this winter if ministers ignore calls to match pay with inflation.

2. Ukraine crowdfunds bounty for wanted Russian Ukrainians raised $150,000 over the weekend for the capture of Igor Girkin, a prominent Russian nationalist and former intelligence officer who oversaw the Russian forces that shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014.

3. Brussels to propose temporary gas price ceiling The EU is planning to set a maximum “dynamic price” for gas transactions on the Dutch Title Transfer Facility, a benchmark for gas traded in the bloc. The aim is to empower the bloc to rein in extreme natural gas prices without hurting supply security.

4. Deutsche Bank dropped Hertha Berlin over Lars Windhorst links The lender decided to ditch the Bundesliga football club as a client last year over its ties to financier Lars Windhorst, after a series of scandals forced Deutsche to step up its compliance regime.

5. Tunisia reaches preliminary IMF loan agreement The $1.9bn loan agreement, which was announced late on Saturday and is yet to be ratified by the IMF board, is designed to alleviate the North African economy plagued by food and fuel shortages. This will be the third agreement between Tunisia and the IMF since 2013.

The day ahead

UK A government consultation closes today on a new legal framework for defined benefit pension schemes, including rules for funding and investment strategies. The government wants schemes to reduce investment risk.

Corporate earnings Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon and Charles Schwab release results. Rio Tinto publishes an operational update.

Economic data Italy releases a September consumer price index.

Foreign Affairs Council meets EU foreign ministers meet in Luxembourg to discuss the war in Ukraine, EU relations with China and the upcoming COP27 UN Climate Change Conference.

Booker Prize The winner of the Booker Prize, the leading award for English language fiction, will be announced at a ceremony in London. (The Booker Prizes)

What else we’re reading

The revolutionary ambitions of Iran’s Gen Z Young Iranians have surprised the country — and the world — by refusing to back down during one of the most widespread and long-lasting anti-regime demonstrations in the Islamic republic’s history. “Woman, life, freedom” has become the battle cry of young men and women in the streets.

The death last month of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody has sparked nationwide protests that have provoked a heavy-handed response from the state © Bulent Lilic/AFP/Getty Images

Tories plan for life after Truss The mood against Liz Truss is hardening within the Conservative party despite her efforts to steady the government with the appointment of Jeremy Hunt as chancellor. Tory MPs will watch the reaction of markets today following her decision to scrap a planned rise in corporation tax — with some would-be successors already laying groundwork for leadership bids.

Why the business world is so bad at politics Zealots don’t get business: the pragmatism of it, the lack of absolutes. But businesspeople also don’t understand fanaticism, argues Janan Ganesh. Rigid and abstract minds don’t tend to thrive in business, but that also makes it hard for them to fathom extremists.

Masochistic morning rituals are entertaining, not inspiring Productivity gurus are rising ever earlier to pack in strenuous workouts, ice baths, meditation and journaling before most of us have had our first coffee. These routines aren’t realistic for most, but they can be fun to watch, writes Emma Jacobs.

The world needs more ‘desk-bombers’ The act of approaching someone at their desk without warning has become so offensive that a buzzword has been invented to describe it. It’s part of a pattern on the march: an outbreak of overweening shyness, or intolerance of interruption, that is at best self-destructive and at worst unproductive, writes Pilita Clark.


The bright, south-facing slopes of the Onsernone Valley were long ago terraced and planted with chestnut orchards and rye. But over the past century, as farming has been all but abandoned, they have become a study in afforestation — and are almost certainly wilder today than at any time since humans settled there in the late Middle Ages.

Al Pròu, a small pasture surrounded by forest above the village of Vocaglia
Al Pròu, a small pasture surrounded by forest above the village of Vocaglia © Switzerland Tourism

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