Throughout his campaign and from the start of his presidency, Donald Trump’s blatant disdain for NATO and his open support for Brexit and populist, Euroskeptic parties across the continent have riled European leaders. At the NATO and G7 summits in Brussels and Italy last week, Trump further poisoned transatlantic relations by refusing to support NATO’s doctrine of collective defense and then signaling that he would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, which he did on June 1. As German Chancellor Angela Merkel balefully declared, “The times in which we could rely fully on others—they are somewhat over.” She did not specifically mention the United States, but her message was clear.
As Trump alienates his Western allies, and the United Kingdom begins its departure from the EU, China has been quietly reaching out to Western nations. Both Beijing and Brussels hope to move ahead with economic globalization, and during the annual EU-China Summit held in Brussels on June 1–2, the two sides forged a new green alliance to combat global warming, a clear nose thumbing at Trump. With the EU and the United States increasingly divided, this moment may mark the beginning of a new China-EU axis in global politics.