The wise conclusion reached at the EU-China summit in Beijing last year was that the focus of the relationship must shift to practical cooperation. President Xi Jinping has made clear he sees Europe as a vital partner for China’s ambitious growth and reform agenda. The emphasis is on urbanisation, green growth, innovation and R&D, and important negotiations have started on an EU-China bi-lateral investment agreement.
This edited volume, based on the papers presented by European and Chinese scholars during a 2012 workshop in Berlin on China-Europe relations provides useful insights into four key areas of Europe-China relations: politics and security; Europe’s sovereign debt crisis; energy and environment; and public diplomacy and soft power. These areas are important in building a stronger and more resilient China-Europe relationship. Above all, however, China and Europe must learn to interact with each other despite deep-seated differences, including over human rights.
This will not be easy: China – like many other emerging countries – is both a rising power with regional and global ambitions and a developing country which still has to deal with poverty and social inequalities. For the EU, interacting with China and other increasingly assertive emerging powers which don´t share Europe’s values and norms is an important test of its ability to adjust to an emerging multi-polar world marked by fundamental shifts in the global distribution of power as well changes in the nature of power.
A stronger and more sustained engagement with China is important for the EU’s growth and jobs agenda, as well as for its credentials as a global actor. Similarly, China has an obvious economic interest in keeping its EU connections in good shape. Europe remains an important market for Chinese goods, an increasingly significant source of investments and a partner which can help Beijing to meet the higher quality-of-life aspirations of its people.
The authors of this book correctly explain why China should remain at the centre of the EU’s conversation with Asia, and of wider European efforts to fashion a new foreign and security policy.