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Scorecard The Europe Question

A Power Audit of EU-China Relations

Published on 17 April 2009

China is exploiting the EU's divisions and treating the 27-state bloc with "diplomatic contempt" on issues ranging from trade to the Dalai Lama, according to the authors of a new policy report by the European Council on Foreign Relations, a leading pan-European think-tank, in close cooperation with Asia Centre at Science Po.  Even though China is the EU's second largest trading partner, EU policy still has roots in a time when China was a developing country rather than a diplomatic competitor.   Following the failure of the EU to put united demands to China at the G20, the authors believe it is essential that the EU strikes tougher bargains with Beijing and uses the levers at its disposal- otherwise it will be outmanoeuvred at next month's EU-China summit in Prague.

This analysis comes in the Power Audit of EU-China Relations, the first ever pan-European study of EU-China relations.  It is written by John Fox, ECFR Senior Policy Fellow; and Francois Godement, ECFR Senior Policy Fellow, Professor and Director of the Asia Centre at Sciences Po, based on extensive fieldwork and interviews in all twenty-seven member states.

Fox and Godement argue that a policy of "unconditional engagement", in which the EU grants China economic benefits in the hope that this will lead to democratic reform, has failed to achieve advances since it was introduced in the mid-eighties.  And jostling for influence in Beijing between member states - especially France, Germany and the UK- means that they have refused to support each other on contentious issues such as meeting the Dalai Lama.

Click here for the full text of the report. 

Click here to read our press release.

You can download the executive summary of this report in Bulgarian, French, German, Italian, Polish and Spanish

This report represents the views of its authors, not the collective view of ECFR

Press clippings

La politique extérieure de l'UE en Chine en mal de cohérence, La Tribune, 15 July 2009 

CHINA-EU: Summit Redefines Diplomatic Boundaries, IPS, 22 May 2009

"La voix de l'Europe est disséminée", L'Express, 20 May 2009

Le déficit commercial entre les deux partenaires s'envole, Les Echos, 20 May 2009

Почти безобидни, Capital, 20 May 2009

Alive and kicking: the centralised nation state, European Voice, 20 May 2009

La voix de l'Europe est disséminée, L'Express, 20 May 2009

Beziehung ohne Balance, Suddeutsche Zeitung, 18 May 2009 

David Miliband: China ready to join US as world power, The Guardian, 17 May 2009

Dalaï lama: l'UE et la Chine en sommet pour tenter de tourner la page, Romandie News, 17 May 2009

Demokrati: Om Europa ska påverka Kina krävs enighet, Dagens Nyheter, 14 May 2009

China Overtakes Germany in Auto Output, BusinessWeek, 22 April 2009

Global Insight: China sees EU as mere pawn, Financial Times, 22 April 2009

China policy has failed, EU think tank concludes, Taipie Times, 18 April 2009

España figura entre los países de la UE menos exigentes con China en Derechos Humanos, según un centro de estudios, Europa Press, 17 April 2009

Studie: Peking hat für EU nur „Geringschätzung" übrig, Die Presse, 17 April 2009

Dragon nightmares, The Economist, Charlemagne column, 16 April 2009


Europe needs a new approach to human rights in China by John Fox, EUObserver, 4 June 2009

Europe needs to stop its pandering to China by John Fox and Francois Godement, The Financial Times, 21 May 2009

China Steps Up to World Stage, Cautiously by Francois Godement, Yale University Press, 24 April 2009

Running rings around the E.U. by John Fox and Francois Godement, International Herald Tribune, 21 April 2009

Website commentaries

The EU needs a new China strategy, by John Fox and Francois Godement, 17 April 2009

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