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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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."