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Premier Li Keqiang receives scant international attention by China watchers who view Xi Jinping as the strong man at the top. Yet Li and the State Council have a bigger role than meets the eye.

By Orville Schell (via ChinaFile)

By rejecting the ruling of the arbitration tribunal in The Hague China has diminished the chances of resolving its regional maritime disputes in a peaceful manner. This essay was originally published by ChinaFile, the online magazine of Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations.

China’s rejection of the South China Sea ruling poses a serious challenge to the rules-based international order. European nations can play an important role in forging a response using a new “G7 plus” Format.

Without the UK, the EU will find it harder to come up with convincing answers to the strategic challenges posed by Beijing. Germany and France will have to drive the necessary repositioning of European China policy – and seek close coordination with Britain in the G7.

Chinese investors worry about access to the EU’s single market while the political leadership in Beijing fears losing the UK as an advocate in Brussels and witnessing a further decline of the EU’s global influence.

Germany has built a more cooperative relationship with China than most Western nations. But even Angela Merkel’s influence in Beijing only goes so far, as her recent trip has shown. In light of Beijing's more aggressive foreign policy, Germany is well advised to coordinate its China policy as closely as possible with its European and non-European partners.

Interview with Thomas Eder

Tensions in the South China Sea could further escalate after a ruling by a UN tribunal expected within the next few weeks. China is likely to take provocative action should the court rule in favour of the Philippines, said MERICS fellow Thomas Eder. In our latest Podcast, Eder warns that the EU cannot afford to ignore this challenge in a region that includes important shipping routes for its trade with Asia.

China’s acquisition of Mediterranean ports is a logistical move to facilitate its growing trade with Europe. But the ports also serve to augment China’s naval presence in the region, increasing its capability to counter risks to its trade flows and citizens.

 

China’s rise as a global player is forcing EU member states to rethink the way they pursue their security interests. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), presently chaired by Germany, could become a valuable tool for engaging China on critical security challenges, particularly in Central Asia.

Donald Trump’s rants against China have not hurt his popularity in Chinese social media debates. China’s netizens view the Republican presidential candidate as a pragmatic businessman who could fix relations between the world’s two biggest economic powers. And many would certainly prefer him to Hillary Clinton. 

The US claims that China’s internet controls may violate the rules of global trade. This line of argument exposes a dilemma for China’s leaders who struggle to uphold an increasingly authoritarian system in an era of deepening international Integration.

As rising tensions in the South China Sea worry policymakers from Washington to Brussels, the US and the EU should seize the opportunity to cooperate with China in another part of the world. China’s growing role in the Mideast and its “One Belt, One Road” initiative could be a starting point for non-traditional maritime security cooperation.

A few years ago, Western countries feared that China’s forays into Africa would cut them off from commodities. In light of current low prices it looks as if China made a mistake when it secured access to resources through risky Investments.

Tensions in the South China Sea may escalate when an international tribunal rules on China’s maritime claims. Europe may feel far removed from the conflict, but European involvement and transatlantic coordination could be instrumental in defusing the dangerous Situation.

Rather than presiding over another round of double-digit growth in China’s military budget, President Xi Jinping wants to turn the world’s largest military into a truly modern armed force.

China has a huge stake in a peaceful transformation of North Korea, but it has so far shown little inclination to do something about it. Is this about to Change?

The Munich Security Conference so far mainly provides an opportunity to talk about China, but not with China. Europeans need to improve the channels to engage Asia and China in security dialogues.

The old world order – the Pax Americana - is falling apart. What does China think about all of this? Beijing realises that it needs to do more to maintain a reasonable minimum of international order – and that it needs to work with the United States towards that purpose.

China’s leaders want to establish the yuan as a global asset and transaction currency. But this won’t work as long as exchange rates are driven by conflicting domestic policy targets rather than by global markets.