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Linda Liang

Nationalism is a powerful force in China – one that, once mobilized, can serve the government’s purposes. As EU member states weigh up their decision on Huawei, the possibility of a backlash by Chinese consumers has to be considered. Could the Chinese government let loose a retaliation from the bottom up? Linda Liang weighs up the odds. 

Chinese tech companies are turning to European suppliers and collaborative projects to cut their reliance on US suppliers. Caroline Meinhardt says Europe faces some tough choices.

Thomas Geddes

The WHO’s excessive acclaim of China’s response to the coronavirus is a sign of Beijing’s growing sway over the UN agency, says Thomas Geddes.

By Mary Hennock

As the MERICS China Forecast 2020 event opened in Berlin it was already clear the outbreak of deadly coronavirus flu in Wuhan would ratchet up all the key political and economic stress patterns we were asking our panellists to consider. For China, 2020 will be shaped by the still-unknowable consequences of the outbreak.

China is pushing for its currency to be used all over the world and its renminbi trading infrastructure is particularly good in the European Union. Maximilian Kärnfelt says this looks set to bring the Europeans real commercial benefits – and create real geopolitical problems. 

 

The US and Europe differ on using Chinese companies for next-generation mobile-phone networks. John Lee says that reflects different assessments of whether the benefits can outweigh the risks.

"Westlessness" is the slogan of this weekend's Munich Security Conference (MSC) and a tribute in no small part to China: Beijing's rise and its growing influence on economic, political and security issues is having a clear impact on the Western-led liberal world order, argues MERICS expert Helena Legarda. (via EUobserver)

That China has a stake in the Middle East became evident just recently, when the killing of an Iranian general by a US drone strike drew a very critical response from Beijing. However, wary of further antagonizing the United States and prolonging their trade dispute, China refrained from taking concrete action to support Tehran. Faced with the choice between supporting its ally Iran or staying out of the fray, Beijing chose the status quo, says MERICS analyst Helena Legarda.

While Beijing is investing in Central Asia, the European Union views the region as little more than a way station on the road to China. Oyuna Baldakova says the EU has to think again.

2020 promises to be a critical year in Europe-China relations. Results of a MERICS expert survey, however, indicate that prospects for success look dim, unless European governments can translate last year’s shift in rhetoric into real changes in policy and approach. 

For much of the past year, China has been preoccupied with its trade conflict with the United States. Now that it has a clinched a “phase-one” deal with Washington, it is turning its attention to Europe. The problem? Europe hasn't made up its mind about how to respond, says Noah Barkin. 

Barbara Kelemen

Growing Chinese commitment to Afghanistan’s pine-nut industry is a small but illuminating example of Beijing’s interest in the region bordering Xinjiang, says Barbara Kelemen.

Over the past decade, China has established itself as Kyrgyzstan’s most important economic partner. The China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) is one of the most successful state-owned Chinese companies invested in projects in this landlocked and mountainous central Asian country. In his conversations with workers on the ground, Jacob Mardell found out that BRI is not only a tale of national, but also of personal ambition. He is currently travelling countries along the Belt and Road to investigate how the initiative is being implemented on the ground.

Anti-Chinese protests in Russia and Kazakhstan show that Beijing’s Belt and Road projects can be undone by the popular resistance and local politics of their host countries. Government support is not enough, says Oyuna Baldakova.

Resistance to Chinese technology is growing in Germany—and the ripple effects could reach across the continent.

Lacklustre collective action means Southeast Asia countries are failing to constrain the USA and China shaping the future of their region. Hanns W. Maull says European nations should take note.

Washington is escalating its campaign to contain China by blacklisting technology firms. It’s not clear if Europe is prepared to follow suit. Either way, there will be a price to pay.

Linking China and Europe via the Caspian Sea, the “Middle Corridor” is one of the BRI’s six “official” corridor. But in the South Caucasus region, China is almost nowhere to be seen, says Jacob Mardell. He is currently travelling countries along the Belt and Road to investigate how the initiative is being implemented on the ground. 

 

Julian Weber

The Indian Ocean is a critical link in global trade routes, with 80 percent of global seaborne trade passing through it. As China increasingly asserts its interests in the region, Europe cannot afford to turn a blind eye, argues Julian Weber.

The Franco-German Alliance for Multilateralism, now officially up and running, will not be able to expect much of this American presidency. Can it count on China?

As Chinese companies become ever more assertive globally, Europe needs to better support up-and-coming industries and advance cross-regional partnerships, argue Alexandra-Andreea Pop and Anne-Sophie Deman.

This article is part 3 of a mini-series to present the outcomes of the MERICS European China Talent Program 2019.

Ben Miller, Aljoscha Nau, Clémence Lizé

Brussels and Beijing should use their trading clout to forge new rules for online shopping and create new momentum for WTO-reform, argue Ben Miller, Aljoscha Nau and Clémence Lizé.

This article is part 2 of a mini-series to present the outcomes of the MERICS European China Talent Program 2019.

Selina Morell

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.