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Chinese views on European defense integration

Beijing keeps a keen eye on European activities and the development of trans-Atlantic relations

China is watching closely as the EU advances its defense integration in the face of anxieties over Russia and US President Donald Trump’s wavering commitment to NATO. The aim of the EU Global Strategy (EUGS) and the Permanent Structured Co-operation (PESCO) is to streamline the EU’s defense spending, investment and operations. As a potential complement to NATO, its development will impact China’s foreign policy ambitions.

In a new China Monitor, Scott W. Harold, political scientist at RAND corporation and MERICS visiting fellow, explores five scenarios for how China’s interaction with the new initiative might develop. China has traditionally viewed the EU as an “important strategic partner” in the promotion of a “multi-polar international order.”

Harold notes the potential value of the integration efforts to China as a “reinsurance policy” against the United States. Should the project deepen trans-Atlantic divisions, “Beijing may seek to encourage breakdowns in trust between Washington and Brussels,” Harold writes.

Main findings and conclusions

  • The European Union agreed its most extensive and highest profile effort to advance EU defense integration so far in late 2017: a binding mutualdefense pact – the Permanent Structured Co-operation, or PESCO – sits within a broader set of fresh initiatives to encourage greater, more effective, pan-EU defense spending, investment and joint operations. Anxieties over Russia and over the US commitment to NATO under President Donald Trump have ratcheted up the consequences for Europe’s allies of the EU Global Strategy (EUGS) and PESCO. How it develops will impact China’s foreign policy ambitions too.
  • Given the newness of PESCO and EUGS, views from all quarters have tended to be provisional, focused on the implications for NATO’s cohesion, and potential frictions between EU members. Cautious welcomes from NATO and the US were couched firmly within the “3Ds test,” a 20-year old US framework insisting EU defense cooperation must not duplicate, discriminate, or divide Europe from either the US and NATO.
  • China’s analysts are watching the EU’s defense integration initiatives closely and alert to impacts on European integration, foreign and defense policy, and China–EU relations. The EU is officially designated an “important strategic partner” and possible “strategic pole” in China’s promotion of a multi-polar international order. Broadly positive views of the EU have become more nuanced due to rising European nationalism and questions about the EU’s survival. Chinese observers have noted Europe faces the trickiest foreign policy environment since the Cold War and regard PESCO and EUGS as a significant new stage and a “reinsurance policy” against U.S. abandonment.
  • The paper sets out five ideal-type scenarios for PESCO and EUGS, exploring prospects for success or failure, impacts on the cohesion of the trans-Atlantic alliance, and how China might react. For China, the overwhelming concern in any of these scenarios will be the effect on its potential ability to play the EU as a separate pole undermining US hegemony. China opposes a stronger, more unified NATO and trans-Atlantic alliance that would defend the liberal values underpinning the current international order.

1. Introduction: China increasingly observes EU defense integration

In December 2017, the majority of European Union (EU) nations signed up to the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) arrangement, the highest profile effort yet to advance EU defense integration (欧盟防务一体化).2 With 25 members, PESCO (永久性结构合作协议) is part of a broader set of initiatives supporting the European Union Global Strategy (EUGS; 欧盟全球战略), a package of policies designed to encourage greater, more effective, pan-EU defense spending, investment, and joint operations.

Upon the signing of the initiative, European Council President Donald Tusk declared that PESCO was “bad news for our enemies.”3 Many European observers deem the People’s Republic of China (PRC) an increasing threat to the Continent’s interests, values and security, worrying that Beijing’s “authoritarian advance” poses a direct challenge to the EU’s liberal governance model.4 Indeed, attitudes towards China have been hardening across much of Europe recently, and the PRC’s public opinion favorability is under 50 percent across much of Europe.5 Reflecting this more negative view of China, Germany’s then Minister of Foreign Affairs Sigmar Gabriel noted at the 2018 Munich Security Conference that “powers such as China[…] are constantly trying to test and undermine the unity of the European Union.”6

As the EU steps up its commitment to defense integration, how does China regard PESCO and the broader EUGS? China’s basic policy priorities and geo-strategy suggest some reasons for concern, as it opposes a stronger, more unified NATO and trans-Atlantic alliance. This paper presents some thoughts on how European defense integration might unfold, and how China might react.

2. European defense integration seeks to address growing security threats

With the signing of the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, EU member states agreed to pursue a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) together with a Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) intended to coordinate defense- and intelligence-related policies. The Maastricht Treaty has been amended three times in order to create more efficient and effective policy-making institutions for foreign and defense policies. The most important of these reforms was the creation of the High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy in 1999.7

The High Representative is in charge of coordinating the CFSP and CSDP, and is assisted by the European External Action Service (EEAS; established in 2010) and the European Defense Agency (EDA; established in 2004).8

The challenge of incentivizing national governments to spend more on defense – in a coordinated, additive, and synergistic manner – remained unresolved. So too did the development of shared policy goals, and an implementation strategy. Coordinating a common EU defense policy was further complicated by US concerns that this might divide the trans-Atlantic alliance, and by anxieties over possible discrimination against non-EU NATO members such as Turkey. Additionally, the United Kingdom, an EU member, was also opposed to any shift in the focus of European defense away from NATO.

For nearly a decade little progress was made until mid-2016, when High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini published an EU Global Strategy intended to energize the CFSP and CSDP.9 Over the following eighteen months, spurred by a growing sense  of threat from Russia in the wake of the Crimean crisis together with the rise of populism within Europe, and the UK’s looming departure from the EU plus the election of Donald Trump as US president, the EU sought to enhance its ability to address the growing security threats to the continent, and to press ahead with European integration.10While the EUGS is a broad vision statement, it includes a new, comprehensive approach to EU defense integration premised on three key elements: a Coordinated Annual Review of Defense (CARD; 联合国防年度审查, sometimes rendered as 年度防务协调评估); a European Defense Fund (EDF; 欧洲防务基金); and a Permanent Structured Cooperation Agreement (PESCO) to facilitate practical defense initiatives (on which more below).

Shortly after the release of the EUGS, in November 2016, the European Commission released a European Defence Action Plan intended to flesh out the dimensions of the EUGS.

Highlighting Europe’s need to “take responsibility for protecting its interests, values, and the European way of life,”  the Action Plan explained that “a stronger European Union in defence […] ultimately means a stronger NATO.”

It reiterated the point at the end of the document, emphasizing the Council’s goal of “ensuring complementarity with NATO.”11

CARD reviews were intended to spur EU member states to meet certain defense spending standards such as spending two percent of their annual GDP on defense, to ensure sufficient contributions to collective security. The EDF, initially funded at EUR 5.5 billion (USD 6.4 billion) per year, was intended to provide seed funding and spur common investments in shared defense industrial development to generate systems for use across EU member states.

In September 2017, member states submitted a list of common commitments to the European Council in the areas of defense investment, capability development, and operational readiness, a step toward further defense integration. On November 13, 2017, ministers signed a common notification on PESCO and on December 11 the Council adopted a decision establishing PESCO and a declaration identifying 17 collaborative projects. PESCO commits the 25 states who opted-in to “join forces on a regular basis, to do things together, spend together, invest together, buy together, [and] act together” with the goal of “jointly develop[ing] defence capabilities and mak[ing] them available for EU military operations.”12Unlike previous European defense initiatives, PESCO is binding on members.

3. International views of European defense initiatives: from praise to mockery

Reactions to the PESCO agreement from officials of NATO, the United States, the United Kingdom, other US and European observers, and the Russian government and its propaganda arms give a comparative baseline for judging China’s official reaction and policy debate over PESCO’s importance and implications.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed PESCO in November 2017 with important though discrete caveats, saying it “can strengthen European defence which is good for Europe but also good for NATO,” while identifying three benchmarks in the need for:

  • coherence when developing new capabilities
  • certainty that PESCO forces and capabilities are available for NATO
  • the fullest possible involvement of non-EU NATO Allies in the consultations and process.13

NATO’s response echoes the so-called “3Ds test” set out by ex-US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in a 1998 Financial Times op-ed. She cautioned EU defense co-operation must not duplicate, discriminate, or divide Europe from the US and NATO.14 

Official US responses have stuck to the 3Ds. Kay Bailey Hutchison, US Ambassador to NATO, said in February 2018:

“We want to make sure that everything that is done in the EU is something that is complementary with NATO so that we truly do have a common defense and a common purpose on the security front[…] [We] do not want this to be a protectionist vehicle for the EU.”15

Katie Wheelbarger, US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, echoed this view, stating that: “We are supportive of it, as long as it is complimentary to, and not distracting from, NATO’s activities and requirements.”16

UK prime minister Theresa May has voiced concerns that PESCO might complicate joint defense industrial development efforts after the United Kingdom leaves the EU (the so-called BREXIT arrangement), appealing for an “open and inclusive approach to European capability development, that fully enables the British defense industry to participate, [which] is in [all] our strategic security interests.”17

Unofficial reactions from the United States and Europe have ranged more widely.18 A common theme has been PESCO’s potential for burden sharing, which, according to some analysts, might enable Europeans to conduct autonomous operations without having to rely so heavily on American military assets. This could cause some concern for China, since if PESCO frees up US assets for other worldwide assignments, they could conceivably be re-tasked to the Indo-Pacific.

The potential to free US assets for other operations is echoed by former German foreign ministry advisor Ronja Kempin and Barbara Kunz of Sorbonne University. Rather than worrying that Europeans are striving for “strategic autonomy,” they suggest the US should worry instead that “they might not make it,” as a “Europe that does not depend on the United States for almost everything can unburden US armed forces in various theaters.”19

By contrast, PESCO skeptics see the agreement as likely to split the trans-Atlantic alliance, waste resources, discriminate, fail to amount to much, or be hamstrung by the domestic politics of national defense.20A Bloomberg editorial neatly summarized this view, warning, against a European rival to NATO that would “simply duplicate (or worse, compete with) the alliance’s existing command structure.”21Indeed, in November 2018, when French President Emmanuel Macron suggested building up a European Army in order to strengthen the continent’s defenses and autonomy (remarks echoed days later by German Chancellor Angela Merkel but pilloried by U.S. President Donald Trump), American media outlets promptly concluded such efforts were “likely to fail.”22

For its part, Russia and its media express a medley of feigned support, indifference and mild mockery towards PESCO, while encouraging Europeans to split with the United States. At the official level, Kirill Logvinov, Director of the foreign ministry’s NATO Division in the Department of European Cooperation said Russia was not interested in “trying to splinter any group” and “the better[…] groups work with each other in Europe, the better it is for us.” He then dismissed PESCO as “just words.”23

Russia’s  propaganda  writers  have mocked PESCO while  amplifying  it  as a harbinger of European  autonomy.  RT’s Robert  Bridge characterized PESCO as a means for Europe to break from “the dictate of Washington” and to bring greater normality to EU-Russia relations.24 Radio Sputnik’s reporting has played up the theme of impending NATO disintegration, citing experts who argue “EU disengage- ment from the US has begun” – while doubting Europe’s ability to pursue true autonomy, arguing that “‘[the] Americans are not interested in the existence of any other military organization, besides NATO [which is the] armed hand of the US’ in Europe.”25

4. Chinese observers view EU defense integration as promising, but see hurdles remaining

Chinese views of European defense integration are a subset of its views of the EU as a whole, marked by an overarching preoccupation with US hegemony and a counter-emphasis on multipolarity.

Indeed, multi-polarity and “the democratization of international relations” are long-standing Chinese foreign policy tropes related to challenging US status and its alliance networks. Normative notions of human rights, democracy and the rule of law are presented as insensitive to each country’s development path and culturally appropriate governance norms.

China issued its first policy white paper on the European Union in 2003, releasing its second formal policy description over a decade later in April 2014. As the 2014 White Paper notes, China and the EU have formed a “comprehensive strategic partnership”; the EU is an “important strategic partner, sharing an important strategic consensus [with China] on [the desirability of] building a multi-polar world”; and the EU has “no fundamental conflict of interests,” with China. The White Paper therefore characterizes the EU as a valuable partner in China’s pursuit of peaceful development and multi-polarity, one that Beijing hopes will “advocate democracy in international relations.”26

As one recent analysis of China’s relations with US allies and European partners put it, China wants to “weaken Western unity, both within Europe and across the Atlantic.”27These aims could be well served by a major EU-US rift. Equally, China could lose out if a stronger Europe increased US willingness to support the liberal international order, or if the EU took up the mantle of the defender of global liberalism. China prefers a “stable – but pliant and fragmented – EU.”28

In 2013, the EU and China agreed on the EU–China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation, in which China reaffirmed its “support for EU integration” and the two sides noted global trends toward multi-polarity. In addition, the two sides committed to regular dialogues on defense and security policy, more training exchanges, and to “gradually raise the level of EU – China dialogue and cooperation on defense and security, advancing towards more practical cooperation.”29One outcome of the Strategic Agenda was an annual dialogue on security and defense, first held in 2014 when EU Military Committee chairman General Patrick de Rousier met with his Chinese counterparts in Beijing.30Most recently, at the 20th EU–China Summit in Beijing on July 16, 2018, the two sides reaffirmed their commitments to deepening dialogue and partnership, as well as comprehensively implementing the Strategic Agenda, and noted their wide-ranging contacts on foreign and security policy.31

Because Chinese official documents tend to adopt formal, polite diplomatic language, seeking  commonalities  while  reserving  differences  (求同存异),  it is often important to look to unofficial Chinese language sources to infer what Chinese observers really think.

Most research on Chinese perspectives on the European supranational project has found an overall positive, if somewhat abstract, set of attitudes towards the EU from the late 1990s into the early 2010s. For example, in 2011, Dekker and van der Noll reported finding that the overwhelming majority of Chinese citizens had a “positive to very positive” impression of the EU.32Importantly, they found that the majority of respondents obtained their information about the EU primarily from consuming PRC state media, meaning that their impressions reflected positive propaganda images of the EU.

In recent years, however, open source media reporting has found growing skepticism about the EU’s future among Chinese elites. For example, speaking to Deutsche Welle in late 2015, Qiu Yuanlong of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), highlighted the EU’s mounting problems of debt, deep diplomatic divisions, and a weak and disorganized military policy.33

Recent work by Chang and Pieke has updated this view, noting that the 2016 Brexit vote and rising right-wing nationalism have led to a growing sense of pessimism about the EU’s prospects and ability to solve problems in interna- tional society.34They also note diminished confidence in the EU’s capacity to act as a new “pole” in a multipolar order, something the Chinese government sees as desirable in countering American hegemony.

So far, this has not altered Beijing’s official self-presentation as a partner with the EU in countering an increasingly unilateral United States.35

However, China also recognizes its trust deficit and divergence of interests with the Union, with Foreign Minister Wang Yi reportedly urging European leaders not to cut a separate deal on trade with the US, worrying that the EU might “stab China in the back,” leaving Beijing to confront US belligerence on trade alone.36

Authoritarian China may be ambivalent about a stronger, liberal EU, as an outcome that is not necessarily in China’s interest in the economic or security domains. Some recent European analyses have pointed to China’s “16+1” engagement with Central and Eastern Europe, its Belt and Road Initiative, and investments in economically fragile or authoritarian democracies (namely Greece, Hungary and Turkey) as positioning to promote EU fragmentation, or at least take advantage, through influence and leverage.37Similarly, European observers have long noted Beijing’s tendency to play individual EU member states off against each other, as well as Brussels, especially in trade and investment relations.

Chinese analysts and media commentators have repeatedly sought to rebut such criticism and reassure European audiences of Beijing’s unthreatening intentions. “China is watching with sympathy and hopes that a new EU shall be able to live through all these uncertainties,” according to Zhou Hong, the Deputy Director of the Division of International Studies at CASS.38 Chen Chenchen of Renmin University dismissed suggestions that China uses “divide and conquer” tactics against European partners, arguing that “regional integration is what China advocates more vigorously than ever,” and contending that European analysts who see a threat from China were translating “a strong sense of European anxiety” into something that is “simply a delusion.”39

Turning to perspectives on the EUGS, in May 2017 the China Institute of International Studies (CIIS), a think-tank of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, published a joint assessment that admits to more friction with the EU than unofficial commentators generally acknowledge. The EUGS could “potentially widen the differences between China and Europe on matters of strategy, regional affairs, and security outlook” and intensify economic and diplomatic competition, the CIIS analysts concluded.40 At the same time, they noted a formidable list of implementation challenges, including “relatively large economic and financial constraints, member states’ insufficient commitment, and the difficulties of achieving a balance between responding to internal and external [threats].”41

A contrasting strand of argument sees EUGS positively, as signifying momentum, adaptability and co-operation. Kong Gang of the PLA’s National University of Defense Technology sees Europe moving forward with defense cooperation despite differences in perspectives associated with countries’ unique interests.42 Zhou Hong, the Deputy Director the Division of International Studies at CASS, notes the impact of Brexit and the rise of right-wing European nationalism, praising the EU’s quick reactions to “the changing constellation of world powers, including the changes in itself” – presumably meaning Brexit. “Throughout the EUGS, we see a new EU that is more realistic, more reasonable, [and] more willing to cooperate with partners,” and having “a much more realistic assessment of [its] own power and strengths.”43 And Yang Haifeng of the Shanghai European Studies Association similarly praises the EUGS, noting that despite having seen its global influence reduced by some setbacks to its unity in recent years (again, likely a ref- erence to Brexit), the EU “nonetheless remains an important global pole” pursuing a strategy of “principled realism (有原则的事务主义).”44

By contrast, Li Meng, writing in PLA Daily, highlights tensions between the EU and NATO. Arguing that the EU’s efforts to establish an independent capacity for military action “have attracted a high degree of attention and vigilance” from NATO, which has in the past seen it as acompetitor, even a challenger” (竞争者甚至挑战者), Li argues that despite all of the communication channels between the two entities “indecisiveness” (议而不决) is becoming a “big problem” that EUGS is unlikely to resolve.45

On PESCO specifically, Chinese analyses have tended to be cautious, identifying challenges while also reserving judgment. The common threads are that PESCO represents a new stage, and that is likely to be complicated.

Kang Jie of CIIS calls PESCO “a new stage in European defense cooperation,” though with a long road ahead. (欧盟防务一体化依然任重道远). Noting Europe’s hardest security environment since the Cold War, Kang describes EU defense integration as a “hedging tactic” (一种对冲策略) against an increasingly unreliable, bloated NATO that has “lost focus” through – he says – organizational expansion and mission creep into areas such as “‘humanitarian’ interference” (‘人道主义干涉). Despite huge cost incentives in development and procurement, Kang considers defense industrial cooperation has only a 50 percent chance of success.46 

Writing in PLA Daily, Zhao Huaipu and Zhao Jianzhe, both of China Foreign Affairs University, likewise identify “a substantial advance in European defense integration,” and “deep waters” where “gaps in theory and practice cannot be overlooked”.47

PLA Daily has carried an overall review of PESCO that refers to it as a “new milestone” (新里程碑), and areinsurance” (再保险) plan for Europe if NATO proves unreliable. Again, expansion is seen as problematic – it is “definitely not the case that bigger is better” as countries may have conflicting priorities. The op-ed predicts smaller countries will fear their national defense industries being swallowed up by Germany and France. It also notes that few countries are likely to meet the defense spending goal of two percent of GDP, even by 2024.

Finally, it suggests that the absence of a common threat perception and shared strategy, PESCO states will struggle to agree on which defense investments to abandon.48

5. Scenarios for PESCO’s future: how EU defense integration might affect China

Given the newness of the various EU agreements and institutions – EUGS is two years old, and PESCO, CARD, and EDF even younger, only tentative conclusions can be drawn. With western English-language assessments at an early stage, it is natural that China’s appraisal of EUGS and related initiatives is also only just unfolding. However, a preliminary assessment shows that Beijing’s Europe analysts, international relations experts, and military-strategic analysts are tracking European integration and EU defense cooperation developments closely.

This section sketches five possible futures for PESCO before drawing conclusions and implications (see figure on page 2).

At least five ideal-type outcomes are imaginable, arrayed along the axes of success/failure and positive/negative impact on the trans-Atlantic alliance.49

The EU succeeds in improving policy coordination, R&D, procurement and overall integration in ways additive to NATO. The European pillar of NATO grows stronger, the alliance more cohesive, and European defense and security affairs more certain. Better deterrence of Russia permits the United States to redeploy some forces, reroute funds to modernization, or build-up in the Indo-Pacific.

Scenario 1

For China, this is likely the worst-case scenario, dashing hopes of ‘a separate pole’ balancing the United States. Moreover, if the United States (possibly with partners such as the UK or France, which have sent ships through the South China Sea) devoted more attention and resources to the Indo-Pacific, it could raise the costs to China of regional coercion.

Scenario 2

EU defense integration far surpasses expectations, while the United States to abandon its role as a leading guarantor of the liberal international order.

China might see EU defense integration as more threatening than most other situations where Washington and Brussels grow distant if the EU steps up to become the primary articulator and defender of liberal democracy worldwide.

Scenario 3

EU defense integration succeeds, but at the heavy cost of splits between Brussels, London and Washington.

China’s preferred scenario materializes – the EU increasingly acts as a regional ‘pole’ for China to play against the United States. The EU, ever more at odds with a less militarily capable NATO, focuses primarily on non-traditional security threats (counter-piracy; counter-terrorism; humanitarian assistance) and regional threats emanating from North Africa and the Middle East. For China, it presents little military challenge.

Scenario 4

EU defense integration efforts fail (PESCO in particular) and are abandoned without much damage to NATO.

China has little cause to rejoice, or worry. NATO continues to act much as it does today – providing some global goods China appreciates while binding Europe and North America in ways it perceives as fettering its global influence and worthy of occasional complaint.50

Scenario 5

PESCO fails, simultaneously driving deep divisions between Washington, London and Brussels (especially if it founders from US, UK, or NATO opposition).

China would embrace this as a favorable outcome, with Europe and the United States increasingly at odds and NATO weakened institutionally (even if not fatally). Europe’s reduced contribution to global public goods would be a minor concern, outweighed by disdain for the US’s Cold War-origin alliance network.51

6. Conclusion

China’s analysts are paying close attention to the EU’s unfolding defense integration efforts, and the consequences for overall European integration, EU foreign and defense policy coherence, and China–EU relations. China has thus far withheld from making any formal statements for or against EU defense integration – but its observers are neither ignorant of security policy developments originating in Brussels, nor inattentive to their implications.

At present, China’s publicly available writings show scant anxiety about the possible implications of EUGS and PESCO for Beijing’s interests. In part, this may reflect the established habit of framing the EU as a partner in countering US hegemony through the rise of a ‘multipolar’ world.

However, it is possible that Beijing may seek to shape the evolution of the EU’s defense integration efforts in the course of its own security and foreign policy reviews, and future China-EU dialogues.

Should EU defense integration, and PESCO specifically, deepen trans-Atlantic divisions, Beijing may seek to encourage breakdowns in trust between Washington and Brussels, perhaps by reaching out more to the EU on security affairs.

However, if Europe manages PESCO and the EUGS as complementary to NATO, China might see reasons to attempt undermine such efforts – especially if defense integration spills over into a push for stronger EU-wide integration, or makes Brussels a more capable and active proponent of the liberal international order. Such a development would both reinforce NATO and undercut China’s hopes of Europe suited to its visions of “multi-polarity” and the “democratization of international relations.”

In the end, the world’s biggest ever, richest, strongest and technologically adept one-party communist dictatorship is inherently threatened by, and threatening to, the EU’s liberal, democratic supranational political experiment. The EU’s quest to elevate “a European way of life” is inherently at odds with the CCP’s pursuit of its own continuity in power. For the EU, successful defense integration will therefore require vigilance and a clear understanding of how China perceives its efforts to improve security and military policy coordination, as well as a plan for how to guard against any attempts by Beijing to undercut or impede it.


1 | This article was written during a two months’ residency at the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) from July – August 2018. An enormous debt of gratitude is due to Mikko Huotari of MERICS for helping arrange the opportunity. Special thanks also to Tom Bayes for insights on the EU and China, among other things. Finally, I am grateful to my RAND colleagues Molly Dunigan, Tom Szayna, and Stephanie Young for approving my sabbatical request.
2 | “Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO)—Factsheet,” EU External Action Service,
June 28, 2018: manent-structured-cooperation-pesco-factsheet_en.
3 | Robin Emmott, “‘Bad News for Our Enemies’: EU Launches Defence Pact,” Reuters, December 14, 2017: launches-defence-pact-idUKKBN1E811Z.
4 | Thorsten Benner, Jan Gaspers, Mareike Ohlberg, Lucrezia Poggetti, and Kristin Shi-Kupfer, Authoritarian Advance: Responding to China’s Growing Political Influence in Europe (Berlin, Germany: Mercator Institute for China Studies, February 2018): https://www.merics. org/sites/default/files/2018-02/GPPi_MERICS_Authoritarian_Advance_2018_1.pdf.
5 | “How Are Global Views on China Trending?” China Power Project, Center for Strategic and International Studies citing BBC and Pew Global Public Opinion survey data, November 7, 2017:
6 | “Speech by Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel at the Munich Security Conference,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany website, February 17, 2018.
7 | This position was later renamed as the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy in 2010 after the Lisbon Treaty took effect.
8 | Together, the EEAS and EDA jointly form the Secretariat of PESCO.
9 | Federica Mogherini, Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe (Brussels, Belgium, EU, June 2016);
10 | “EU, French Militaries Prepare to Go It Alone after Brexit, US Warnings,”, April 9, 2017: spending-brexit-us-warnings-isolationism.
11 | Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee, and the Committee of the Regions – European Action Defense Plan (Brussels, Belgium: European Commission, November 30, 2016): nication_from_commission_to_inst_en_v5_p1_869631.pdf.
12 | This section draws on Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) – Factsheet, op. cit.
13 | “Remarks by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Start of the European Union Foreign Affairs Council in Defence Format (as Delivered),” NATO Newsroom—Speeches and Transcripts, November 13, 2017:
14 | Madeleine K. Albright, “The Right Balance Will Secure NATO’s Future,” The Financial Times, December 7, 1998.
15 | “Press Briefing by Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison,” US Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, February 13, 2018: ing-ambassador-kay-bailey-hutchison/.
16 | Aaron Mehta, “US Cautiously Watching EU Military Proposal,” Defense News, February 13, 2018: ing-eu-military-proposal/.
17 | Jill Aitoro, “UK Prime Minister May Warns EU Against Freezing Britain Out of Defense Developments,”, February 17, 2018: smr/munich-security-forum/2018/02/17/uk-prime-minister-may-warns-eu-against-freez- ing-britian-out-of-defense-developments/.
18 | Some American observers, for example, have been quite supportive of the PESCO initiative. Erik Brattberg of the Carnegie Endowment and Jamie Fly of the US-based German Marshall Fund, have argued that “if they do succeed, the result will be greater European respon- sibility for the Continent’s security and a stronger European pillar within NATO.” Similarly, Shannon Mercer of the Hoover Institution sees it as “far from a NATO-slayer” and forecasts that – provided good implementation generates efficiencies – it will have a “modest role to play.”  Sven Biscop of the Royal Institute for International Relations in Brussels is also of the view that PESCO is “good news for NATO.” He sees potential for greater European contributions to territorial defense and expeditionary operations within the NATO frame- work, and the added bonus of “autonomous operations in their own periphery, without needing to have recourse to American assets.” See: Erik Brattberg and Jamie Fly, “Two Cheers for European Defense Cooperation,” Foreign Policy, March 9, 2018:; Shannon Mercer, “No, Europe Isn’t Ambushing NATO,” Foreign Policy, January 3, 2018: https://foreignpolicy. com/2018/01/03/no-europe-isnt-ambushing-nato/; and Sven Biscop, “PESCO: Good News for NATO from the EU,” Egmont Royal Institute for International Affairs, February 14, 2018:
19 | Ronja Kempin and Barbara Kanz, “Washington Should Help Europe Achieve ‘Strategic Autonomy’, Not Fight It,” War on the Rocks, April 12, 2018: https://warontherocks. com/2018/04/washington-should-help-europe-achieve-strategic-autonomy-not-fight-it/.
20 | Daniel Kochis at The Heritage Foundation sees the pact as the leading edge of an inef- fective “European Army” that will be incapable of defending Europe even as it sidelines the United States, cripples NATO, and empowers unaccountable Euro-federalist bureau- crats in Brussels. T.S. Allen has predicted harm to European security if PESCO excludes and alienates non-EU NATO members. See: Daniel Kochis, “One Step Closer to a Bad Idea: A European Army,” The National Interest, December 24, 2017: https://nationalinterest. org/feature/one-step-closer-bad-idea-european-union-army-23780; and T.S. Allen, “An American Perspective on PESCO: The Dangers of De-Linking EU Defence from NATO,” Policy Exchange, January 7, 2018: pesco-the-dangers-of-de-linking-eu-defence-from-nato/.
By contrast, Steven  Blockmans of the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels argues PESCO is more likely to be irrelevant than irreparably harmful, arguing that national defense industry lobbies may resist EU-wide co-ordination of investments, so that only new arenas such as cyber and drone warfare are likely to benefit. Ulrike Franke, an expert on new technology in warfare, foresees PESCO rendered impotent by Germany’s insistence on an inclusive block giving rise to a lowest-common denominator approach.” And Andrew Michta argues the main problem with PESCO, as with broader efforts at EU defense integration, is the absence of a larger “architectural vision it needs to coalesce individual states around a coherent EU approach.” See: Steven Blockmans, “Brexit is Allowing Europe to Get Serious about Defending Itself,” about-defense-opinion-blockmans/index.html; Ulrike Esther Franke, “Pesco, the Impotent Gorilla,” European Council on Foreign Relations, November 17, 2017: article/commentary_pesco_the_impotent_gorilla; and Andrew A. Michta, “Europe Revisits Common Defense, Yet Again…” The American Interest, November 17, 2017: https://www.
21 | The Editorial Board, “NATO Doesn’t Need a European Rival,” Bloomberg, November 30, 2017:
22 | See, for example, Vivienne Walt, “Why Macron’s Dream of a Europe-Wide Army Is Likely to Fail,” Time, November 12, 2018.
23 | Andrea Shalal, “Russian Official: Not Worried about EU’s Moves on Defense Pact,” Reuters, November 28, 2017.
24 | Robert Bridge, “Hasta la Vista, NATO? All Systems Go for a European Fighting Force,” RT, November 15, 2017:
25 | “EU’s PESCO Pact: Viable Alternative to NATO or Much Ado About Nothing?” Radio Sputnik, December 26, 2017: co-nato/.
26 | China’s Policy Paper on the EU: Deepen the China – EU Comprehensive Strategic Partnership for Mutual Benefit and Win-Win Cooperation (Beijing, China: Ministry of Foreign Affairs,  April 2, 2014):
27 | Thomas Wright and Thorsten Benner, “China’s Relations with US Allies and Partners in Europe—Testimony to the US – China Economic and Security Review Commission,” United States–China Economic and Security Review Commission website, April 5, 2018: and%20Thomas%20Wright_Written%20Statement_April%205%2C%202018.pdf.
28 | Ibid.
29 | EU – China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation (Brussels, Belgium: EU External Action Service, 2013): gic_agenda_en.pdf.
30 | “EU, China to Hold First Dialogue on Security, Defense,” Xinhua, October 10, 2014. 
31 | Joint Statement of the 20th EU–China Summit (Brussels, Belgium, EU External Action
Service, July 17, 2018): xxx
32 | Henk Dekker and Jolanda van der Noll, “Chinese Citizens’ Attitudes towards the European Union and their Origins,” University of Nottingham China Policy Institute Briefing Series, August 2011.
33 | Matthis von Hein and Fu Yue, “China’s View of Europe,” Deutsche Welle, August 25, 2015:
34 | Vincent K. L. Chang and Frank N. Pieke, “Europe’s Engagement with China: Shifting Chinese Views of the EU and the EU – China Relationship,” Asia Europe Journal (2018), pp. 1 – 15.
35 | Noah Barkin and Elizabeth Piper, “In Davos, Xi Makes Case for Chinese Leadership Role,” Reuters, January 17, 2017; Robin Emmett and Noah Barkin, “Exclusive: China Presses Europe for Anti-US Alliance on Trade,” Reuters, July 3, 2018.
36 | Keegan Elmer, “China Fears Europe Will ‘Stab It in the Back’ as Trade Conflict with US Escalates,” South China Morning Post, July 6, 2018.
37 | Benner, et. al., Authoritarian Advance, op. cit.; Francois Godement and Abigaël Vasselier, China at the Gates: A New Power Audit of China – EU Relations (London, UK: European Council on Foreign Relations, December 2017); James Kynge and Michael Peel, “Brussels Rattled as China Reaches Out to Eastern Europe,” FT, November 27, 2017; Thorsten Benner and Jan Weidenfeld, “Europe, Don’t Let China Divide and Conquer,” Politico, April 20, 2018.
38 | Zhou Hong, “The EU Global Strategy after Brexit—A Chinese View,” The International Spectator, vol. 51, no. 3 (2016), pp. 52 – 54.
39 | Chen Chenchen, “Beijing Not Trying to Divide, Conquer Europe,” Global Times, November 29, 2016.
40 | CIIS 研究报告 --第 18期:欧盟全球外交安全战略及其影响 (“CIIS Research Report Vol. 18: Europe’s Global Foreign and Security Strategy and Its Influence”), May 15, 2017.
41 | Ibid.
42 | 孔刚 (Kong Gang), 欧洲联盟共同防务: 当代定位与基本逻辑 (“The European Union’s Common Defense Policy: Orientation and Basic Logic”), 欧洲研究 (Chinese Journal of European Studies), vol. 35, no. 5 (2017).
43 | Zhou, “The EU Global Strategy after Brexit -– A Chinese View,” op. cit.
44 | 杨海峰 (Yang Haifeng), “有原则的务实主义—欧盟外交与安全政策的全球战略评析” (Principled Realism – An Assessment of the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy Global Strategy), 欧洲研究 (Chinese Journal of European Studies), vol. 34, no. 5 (2016).
45 | 李萌 (Li Meng), 欧盟共同防务难离北约影响 (“Europe’s Common Defense Policy Will Struggle to Break Away from NATO’s Influence”), 解放军报 (PLA Daily), October 28, 2016.
46 | 康杰 (Kang Jie), 欧盟防务: 抱团易,取缓难 (EU Defense Affairs: Getting Together is Easy, But Getting Results is Hard), December 11, 2017:
47 | 赵怀普 (Zhao Huaipu), 赵健哲 (Zhao Jianzhe), 欧盟防务一体化加快推进 (“European Defense Integration Accelerates Advance”), 解放军报 (PLA Daily), November 29, 2017:
48 | 欧盟共同防务 盟提速’:充满雄心 前景未定 (European Common Defense ‘Gains Momen- tum’: Full of Bravery, But with an Uncertain Path Ahead), 解 放 军 报 (PLA Daily), January 4, 2018:
49 | It is extremely unlikely that real-world outcomes of EU defense integration will closely ap- proximate these scenarios; they are intended as heuristic devices for exploring possibilities, not as predictions, nor to convey the full universe of possible results.
50 | China’s greatest frustration with NATO probably came in 1999 when it accidentally bombed the PRC’s embassy in Belgrade during operations to end Serbian genocide in Kosovo. At this time, Chinese media routinely railed against “American-led NATO” (以美国为首的北约).
51 | On China’s opposition to US alliances, see David Shambaugh, ed., Power Shift: China and Asia’s New Dynamics (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2006); and more recently Adam P. Liff, “China and the US Alliance System,” China Quarterly, April 24, 2017; on China– Russia relations, see Michael S. Chase, Evan S. Medeiros, J. Stapleton Roy, Eugene Rumer, Robert Sutter, and Richard Weitz, eds., Russia – China Relations: Assessing Common Ground and Strategic Fault Lines (Seattle, WA: National Bureau of Asian Research, 2017).