In: The European Union and China
Fraser Cameron
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The EU and China have both undergone dramatic changes in the past 20 years. With 480 million citizens, a single currency and the largest GDP in the world the EU has become an important actor on the international stage. China, with over 1.3 billion citizens, has undergone dramatic reforms and enjoyed unprecedented economic growth that has also led to a greatly increased world role. Both the EU and China are now keen to develop and further deepen their relationship. As Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner stated in February 2005: ‘There is no greater challenge for Europe than to understand the dramatic rise of China and to forge closer ties with it’. But what do Brussels and Beijing mean when they talk of a ‘strategic partnership’? To what extent do they share the same conceptual ideas and principles? The EU proclaims it stands for a values-based foreign policy with the emphasis on ‘effective multilateralism’. China asserts that its peaceful rise is aimed at developing a ‘harmonious world’. But often the two sides seem to talk past each other. In recent years there has been a flurry of EU policy papers on China. In contrast, China published just one paper in 2003 which was highly appreciative of the EU. This chapter reviews the EU approach to China, assesses the thinking behind the various communications and examines the main challenges the EU is facing in forging a new strategic partnership with China.

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The European Union and China

Interests and Dilemmas