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Beijing talks up equality for foreign and domestic businesses but action is slow, say Mikko Huotari and Agatha Kratz.

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.

Lavender Au, Mats Kuuskemaa

China’s personal social credit scoring has sparked controversy, but many in China appear willing to accept it. Lavender Au and Mats Kuuskemaa ask how far this acceptance goes. This article is part 4 of a mini-series to present the outcomes of the MERICS European China Talent Program 2019.

Manlai Nyamdorj

Do artists like Higher Brothers have the potential to boost the image of China abroad and finally bring Chinese societal resources to generate soft power?

 

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. 

 

Alice Mingay

The first in a series of Courts of the Internet to open across China utilizes Alibaba’s size and experience to pioneer online dispute resolution reform. It not only demonstrates the Chinese internet giant’s growing influence in the regulatory sphere, but more widely shows the increasing symbiosis of big tech and government, says Alice Mingay.

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?

The Communist Party praises itself no end on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. But let’s not forget the truth on October 1 – China’s people are the power behind the country’s phenomenal rise over recent decades, says Kristin Shi-Kupfer.

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.

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.