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 with a week-long discussion over issues of shared interest as well as areas of discord.
The discussion will be kicked-off on 29 September with the Europe-China Policy & Practice Roundtable. By invitation only and held under the Chatham House rule, the Roundtable will bring together around 30 Chinese and European scholars, think tank representatives, policymakers and business representatives for an open and lively debate on EU-China relations.
The Europe-China Forum will take place from 30 September to 2 October, during which time 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.
Discussions on Europe-China relations will be preceded on 28 September by the roundtable debate ‘High-quality connectivity for a post-COVID world’.
- Strategic Conversations with Zhang Ming and Gunnar Wiegand
- Friends of Europe discussion paper “Rethinking global governance”
- Event report “Europe-China: convergence, divergence and the vital space between”
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Ensuring a rapid recovery will require a global effort. Even before the pandemic wreaked havoc across the world, the fall-out from US-China trade and tech tensions had hurt growth, spooked financial markets and destabilised global supply chains. As China and Europe seek to move their relationship forward in a new, post-COVID era, issues that were already high up the list of priorities will take on a new sense of urgency. Both will need to work with renewed vigour to keep markets open, uphold the values of multilateralism, and reform outdated institutions.
Participation in the Policy & Practice Roundtable is by invitation only.
- What new challenges and opportunities have arisen for the EU-China relationship in the aftermath of the pandemic?
- What should be the next steps for EU-China relations after concluding the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI)?
- What should the EU and China do to use this moment to initiate real reform in fragilized multilateral institutions like the World Trade Organization (WTO) and World Health Organization (WHO)?
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?
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