EU-China relations in a new age of geopolitics - time to pick a side?
Professor Zhang Jian, Director, Institute of European Studies, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR)
Almut Moeller, Head of Berlin Office & Senior Policy Fellow, ECFR
As the trade war between the US and China seems to continue unabated, the EU must come to terms with its position in a world of renewed geo-political rivalry. With a fraying of transatlantic ties under a volatile US presidency, the question of EU relations with China is once again a matter of debate. Are the importance of Chinese investments and the value of trade between the EU and China sufficient grounds for the EU to distance itself from its traditional American ally? Is it even possible for the EU sustain a closer relationship with China while under pressure from the Trump administration, whose proclivity towards sanctions presents a considerable threat to European economies? On the other hand, should the EU forge closer relations with a country whose government has not ruled out the use of military force to end the protests in Hong Kong?
Chancellor Merkel's journey to Beijing last week seems to indicate that she considers closer ties with China as worthwhile despite such concerns. Is Merkel acting as trailblazer for the future of EU-Chinese relations? Or is Berlin ignoring the danger of China as a strategic rival and undermining the ability of Europe to present a united front against expanding Chinese influence in an age of geo-political rivalry?
We are pleased to welcome Professor Zhang Jian, Director of the CICIR institute for European Studies to discuss these issues and China’s perspective on its relationships with the EU and Germany with us.
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