Can Europe Forge a Common China Policy?

Strategic Europe – Judy Asks - Apr 20, 2023

Pol Morillas, Director of CIDOB, answers to this question at the latest blogpost of Judy Dempsey’s Strategic Europe, hosted by Carnegie Europe: “The recent visits of French President Emmanuel Macron, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to China have all shown that EU member states, albeit conscious of the growing impact of China in international (in)security, still perceive the second world power as an opportunity. Threats that emanate from Beijing’s growing nationalism, assertiveness toward its neighbourhood, a cosy relation with Putin, and the confrontational stance with the United States are major aspects to be addressed, but not at the expense of reinforced bilateral relations. Intense diplomatic activity has thus added substance to the EU’s multifaceted approach to China based on partnership, competition, and rivalry. That is likely to remain the EU’s policy for the time being, unless events force national capitals and Brussels to change course, as the war in Ukraine did for EU-Russia relations. “Events, dear boy, events,” particularly in Taiwan, will be the basis of any major shift in the current EU’s partner-competitor-rival trilogy. But foreign policy is about communication as much as substance. And in this regard, the French president may have fallen prey to the lavish treatment received by Xi Jinping during his official visit to China. Macron overshadowed Ursula von der Leyen, in what should have been a visit to demonstrate European unity. If the substance of EU foreign policy toward China cannot really change at this point, at least the format needs to be better orchestrated.”

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