China was more co-operative in global governance institutions, but its position was closer to that of other emerging powers.
The EU wants China to take more responsibility for addressing global security and economic challenges, especially through co-operation at the UN and G20. Under its new leadership, China seemed a more constructive partner in consultations with Europe on response to crises that occur in 2013. In March it supported UN sanctions against North Korea. After vetoing three UNSC resolutions against Syria in the past, China supported the resolution adopted after the chemical attack in Damascus. In November it proved cooperative in the framework of the E3+3 in Geneva talks on Iran’s nuclear programme. It was also willing to play a more active role in the UN peacekeeping operations and contributed combat troops to the French-led mission in Mali in 2013. This represented a shift in the Chinese approach towards peacekeeping operations: its participation in previous missions had included only logistical and medical personnel.
The “EU-China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation” adopted in November included reinforced co-operation in multilateral forums, including co-ordination before major meetings. But China perceives itself as a representative of developing countries in discussions among big powers. In a position paper for the UNGA in September, for example, China called for UNSC reform and better representation for developing countries. In 2013 it was not the EU but other emerging powers that held consultations with China before major international meetings. Before the G20 summit in St. Petersburg, BRICS countries held an informal meeting to prepare a common position. Before the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw in November, China adopted a common position with Brazil, South Africa and India that fell short of European expectations. At the G20 summit, China agreed to the EU’s proposal for setting up the automatic exchange of tax information among G20 members. In short, although China seemed willing to take a more active role in global governance in 2013, its position was often far from that of the EU.