In the space realm, Europe still seeks cooperation with China despite having framed it a systemic rival. This creates serious strategic and economic risks, because Europe is too fragmented to keep up with China’s concerted commercial and military efforts to challenge the US dominance in space.
This article is part 1 of a mini-series to present the outcomes of the MERICS European China Talent Program 2019.
Italy raised eyebrows in Europe and across the Atlantic when it joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in March. Under the new coalition, Italian China policy promises to be better aligned with that of Brussels. If complemented with strategic and value-based considerations, an increased attention to China inherited from the previous government might not be a bad thing, says Lucrezia Poggetti.
MERICS Guest Author Miguel Otero-Iglesias
The geopolitical rivalry between the United States and China will be the most defining, and permanent, question in international relations for decades to come. And Europe needs to decide how to position itself.
On her trip to China, Chancellor Angela Merkel did little to distance Berlin from Beijing, despite its actions in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. It’s a stance that may alarm her European partners as well as the Americans.
The German Chancellor’s visit must signal Beijing that Europe is serious and united in its newly critical approach to China and show Washington that there are less destructive ways to deal with differences, says Mikko Huotari.
In areas such as data protection and ethics AI, Europe should use debates with China to present itself as a role model, argue Kai von Carnap and Kristin Shi-Kupfer.
A perilous cycle of misunderstanding and disappointment with the West means Beijing could react to world events in panic for the first time since 1989, says Frank Pieke. To ease tensions, Europe needs a more nuanced China policy.
The protests in Hong Kong that have been going on for weeks and the tough attitude of the city’s government, which is remotely controlled from Beijing, now make it unmistakably clear to everyone that the coexistence of totalitarian politics and a liberal economy does not work with China, says Kristin Shi-Kupfer.
Dozens of European companies have business ties to Xinjiang, where according to UN estimates Chinese authorities have detained more than a million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities. European governments need to take a more active interest in their companies’ operations in the region, says MERICS Visiting Policy Fellow Benjamin Haas.
MERICS Guest Author Patrick Köllner
In 2017, Australia readjusted its China policy to a more critical and firm position. 2018 New Zealand followed suit, but fear of deteriorating relations has since led Wellington to change to a more conciliatory course. The different sizes of Australia and New Zealand are an important factor in their differing policy outcomes.
Insa Ewert (via Young China Watchers)
In March this year, Italy became the first G7 nation to sign an official MoU with China in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The move by the Italian government has been interpreted as a sign of increasing divisions within Europe over China. But to what extent might the Italian example be an indication of a shift or rift in EU-China relations?
China’s first major defense white paper in four years was published on July 24. While much of its content is familiar from previous white papers, the line taken on the United States and Taiwan is markedly more aggressive, and the political message it sends to both the domestic and the international audience is clear – a strong reminder that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is the army of the Communist Party and ideology is key, and that China is a responsible power.
Europe should not shy away from taking a more assertive position if it wants the relationship with China to be a healthy one. Realism is needed in dealing with the increasingly powerful and authoritarian newcomer.
NATO discussions about China are already taking place, but the organization needs a coordinated and comprehensive strategy to deal with an ever-more confident China, argue Helena Legarda and Meia Nouwens.
In 2019, an estimated record number of graduates will enter China's labor market – and there are indications that many will struggle to find a position. How does the country create jobs for the 8.34 million students who will graduate from its universities this year? To deal with the challenge, different regions have been experimenting with different solutions.
Traditionally among the biggest investors in China, Taiwanese companies are shifting their focus to neighboring countries. Michelle Tsai says the US-China trade conflict is only one reason.
In Athens, local resistance to investment from China is not so much about opposing China, as resistance to change, says MERICS freelance researcher Jacob Mardell. He is currently travelling countries along the Belt and Road to investigate how the initiative is being implemented on the ground.
In Montenegro and in the rest of the Western Balkans, the European Union is not as attractive as it used to be, and China is giving new hope to the region. Beijing offers a tempting paradigm: no-strings-attached finance and no political interference. Our author Jacob Mardell is currently travelling along China's "New Silk Road."
Who are China’s key opinion leaders on social media? What are their views on the trade war with the US, and how much influence do they have on government policy? Analysis of their early discussion offers insights into Beijing’s approach to the trade war.
China’s investments in African infrastructure capture most of the headlines. But the Chinese government has been doing far more than this, both intensifying and broadening its engagement with African regional organizations. These activities may be lower profile, but they are a growing influence on African policy makers, as Europe appears focused on its own problems.
The African continent offers Huawei and other Chinese technology giants rich opportunities. Tom Bayes unpicks the stories of their rise in Africa and warns more is at stake than technology.
Forget Beijing “weaponizing” its currency through devaluation or the “nuclear option” of it dumping US Treasuries. It could quietly shrink the US trade deficit – at Europe’s expense.
The European Union needs a coherent approach to address the challenges posed by China. But getting there is difficult: the EU elections have shifted political weights, and too many member states follow their own agenda vis-à-vis China.
Supress and conceal: China is an emerging world power, yet it has still failed to find any other way of dealing with the legacy of the bloodily crushed protest movement of 1989.
Erratic and aggressive in the trade dispute with Beijing, Donald Trump is emboldening China’s military hawks, industrial state-interventionists, and nationalistic cheerleaders.