Starting off as a potentially breakthrough year for EU-China relations, 2020 quickly recast itself as the beginning of an age of uncertainty. As both have begun to reassess priorities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, questions have arisen surrounding the future of this relationship. But building a post-pandemic world that transcends the one that came before will require a global joint effort. To succeed, China and Europe will have to find ways to work together despite differences.
As the Europe-China Forum celebrates its 10th anniversary, Friends of Europe is taking the debate online. From 30 November to 2 December, policymakers, business representatives and leading academics from across Europe and China will log-on to discuss issues such as: ensuring a sustainable post-pandemic recovery, technological innovation, and building health partnerships.
- Strategic Conversations with Zhang Ming and Gunnar Wiegand
- “The green transition: views from East and West” by Charlotte Roule and Wang Yao
- Event report “Europe-China: convergence, divergence and the vital space between”
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PHOTO CREDIT: James Coleman on Unsplash
For better or worse, 2020 is a year that will go down in history. But there is still time to define how it will be remembered – as only a year to mourn, or as the year that important first steps were taken towards global transformation. China and the EU are both hard at work to ensure the latter. Europe’s ‘Next Generation EU’ recovery plan commits the bloc to using the Green Deal as its growth strategy. Meanwhile China is moving forward with its ‘New Infrastructure’ plan, which will prioritise clean energy and renewables to turn recovery into opportunity. But lasting transformation will require a global effort. To achieve it, both will also have to face up to economic realities and avoid the temptation of protectionism and closing off markets.
- What are China and the EU doing to ensure that the post-pandemic recovery is green and sustainable, while leaving no one behind?
- What is the state of play on the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) – will China and the EU be able to conclude negotiations by the end of the year?
- Can the EU and China use this moment to initiate real reform in the World Trade Organization (WTO)?
With many daily interactions now forced into the cybersphere, the pandemic has quickened the pace of the digital transition and opened new doors for technological innovation. Contact tracing technology was quickly adopted in China, which is now adapting the concept of a Digital Silk Road to current realities. The EU plans to deepen its investment into digital connectivity as part of its recovery and growth strategy, including further development of 5G networks. But this fresh wave of innovation has also created a more urgent imperative to address associated data and privacy concerns – as well as those related to cyber-security and critical digital infrastructure.
- How can China and the EU engage each other better to advance technological innovation, while still looking after their own strategic interests?
- Which digital innovations will become relics of the ‘age of coronavirus’ and which are here to stay?
- How might China’s new Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP) reshape the future of currency?
As the coronavirus spread across the world in early 2020, much of the spotlight was on competition – whether in the form of public diplomacy initiatives, supply chain interruptions to bogart ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE), or the race to discover and have first access to a vaccine. After an initial shock, however, countries have woken up to the fact that they will need to work together to overcome new challenges. China and the EU have now both committed to ensuring that any COVID-19 vaccine becomes a global public good. But what comes next? In an increasingly interconnected world, the next pandemic isn’t far off. China, the EU and other countries will need to find ways to work together and build a partnership based on strengthening health systems and expertise-sharing.
- How can China and Europe work together to ensure that the world is prepared for the next pandemic?
- Could China’s Health Silk Road be an avenue for cooperation?
- What are the weaknesses in current health systems, and how should they be reinforced?
- Europe's World
- By Jamie Shea
- Europe's World
- By Jean-Luc Lemercier
- Area of Expertise
- Peace, Security & Defence
- Frankly Speaking
- By Dharmendra Kanani