European Council on Foreign Relations

On the ground in Guangzhou

I have just returned from a research trip to China for our upcoming What Does The New China Think? project. Within a few weeks, our team travelled from Shanghai to Beijing to Guangzhou and back to Beijing, with the goal of engaging with contemporary Chinese academics and intellectuals across the country to, indeed, find out what China thinks.

Trips like these are hardly ever a one-way street; our journey also helped me to reassess what I think about China.  It is simple enough to consider China a monolithic authoritarian regime, with Beijing as its centralised power source. I hinted at the true variety within China’s political landscape in my last blog post, foreshadowing the ramifications of the by now internationally notorious Bo Xilai case. And while we as early as last November devoted a whole edition of our China Analysis publication to the possibility of competing development

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Romney and Obama on foreign policy

With the US presidential election now five months away and Mitt Romney now confirmed as the Republican candidate, the rest of the world is beginning to ask what it might mean for them. Yesterday morning, Australian foreign-policy analyst Michael Fullilove came in to ECFR to give us his take on “Obama and Romney: the foreign policy choice”. He made a persuasive case that, although Obama and Romney appear to be different in every possible way, there won’t be a huge difference in the foreign policy they will pursue in office. As he put it, choosing between Obama II and Romney I is like choosing between Betamax and VHS. (Aaron David Miller recently went so far as to claim they are “basically the same man”.)

There have been several assessments recently of Obama’s foreign policy in the three and a half years he’s been office. Almost inevitably, there has been a gap between the soaring

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Berlin (and New York) view: Sarrazin in America

I don’t know whether the controversial German political writer Thilo Sarrazin plans to roll out his new book “Deutschland braucht den euro nicht” ('Germany doesn't the euro') in the United States, especially in New York, but he would probably not find anybody in the whole investment banker crowd this town has to offer who would understand him. If there is one - just one - argument here, it is that Germany has so visibly, so obviously and so largely benefitted from the euro. Investment bankers are shaking their heads about one question that drives them: “Why doesn't Merkel get it?” This is the new German question. What they mean by that is that the euro needs some sort of fiscal federalism, Eurobonds, a treasury and the ECB as lender of last resort. Everybody recognises this. So what is Merkel waiting for?

Germany, after the benefits of the euro, now also benefits from the crisis:

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ECFR this week: 25th May 2012

This week we published the latest in our series of papers looking at the internal dynamics of European countries as they faced the economic crisis. This time the spotlight was on Italy – according to the authors Marco de Andreis and Silvia Francescon a ‘country in receivership’. We’ve several other papers due to be published in this series very soon, and have already examined both the situation in Poland and the Czech Republic

This week’s Eurovision Song Contest has put Azerbaijan’s authoritarian government and its human rights record under international spotlight. But attention should also focus on Europe’s relations with Azerbaijan, which remain guided by narrow energy interests. In a new ECFR policy memo Jana Kobzova and Leila Alieva argue that the EU must now change its approach as the Baku government is more vulnerable than it appears.
Our Middle East/North Africa

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Reinventing Europe: Ivan Krastev on Soviet lessons

As part of ECFR's Reinvention project, we are running a series of blog posts looking at particular thematic issues facing Europe as it attempts to deal with the financial crisis. In the fourth in this series, Ivan Krastev looks to the collapse of the Soviet empire for lessons.


In 1992 the world woke up without the Soviet Union on the map. One of the world’s two superpowers had collapsed in absence of war or an alien invasion or any other catastrophic development. Although the Soviets were in irreversible decline starting with the 1970s nothing has pre-determined their collapse at the end of the 20th century. In 1985, 1986 and even in 1989 the disintegration Soviet Union was so much unconceivable for the analysts of the day as the prospect for the EU disintegration is for the experts today. It is this leap from the “unthinkable” to the “inevitable” that makes Soviet

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