Sunday, January 31, 2010

230) The future of EU-China relations

Embracing the Dragon: The EU's Partnership with China

The future of EU-China relations
Center for European Reform

At a time when China's role in the world has never been more important, the CER is focusing on a number of key priorities in its foreign and domestic policy.

EU-China relations: EU-China relations are dominated by trade. The EU is China’s largest trading partner and a huge market for Chinese manufacturing goods. Unfortunately, the relationship lacks political substance and suffers from a lack of focus. The EU will not be an effective partner for China unless it can develop a more coherent and strategic approach. The dividends are potentially enormous: the more substantively the EU engages with China, the more likely China will become an active and responsible stakeholder in the international community. The CER through its high-level seminars and publications aims to facilitate that engagement.

Chinese foreign policy: China is becoming increasingly prominent in world affairs. Although Beijing remains reluctant to assume a leadership role, international circumstances have forced it to take on greater responsibilities. At a time of global recession, China finds itself at the epicentre of international efforts to reform financial mechanisms and structures through the G-20 process. The new US administration of Barack Obama has also raised the ante on a number of global issues in which China has a major stake – strategic arms control, non-proliferation, and climate change.

China and the global recession: The global financial crisis has highlighted fundamental tensions in Chinese policy-making: dependence on the globalised economy versus protectionist and autarkic tendencies; the instinct for control versus the benefits of greater transparency and accountability. In its reports and seminars, the CER will focus on these key themes in China’s modernisation process.

Climate change: China is now the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, and any international effort to limit carbon emissions will be ineffective without its active participation. Beijing is averse to accepting quantitative limits on greenhouse gas emissions; its priority at a time of global recession is to maintain economic growth. Nevertheless, there are signs that senior figures are starting to take climate change seriously, not merely to placate nagging Europeans and stave off the threat of import tariffs, but because it matters for China’s future.

Regime stability: Since the 17th Party Congress in October 2007, the tandem of President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao has faced numerous domestic challenges. Until now, the Party has managed to consolidate its legitimacy by delivering substantial economic benefits to the population. But global recession has put these achievements in doubt. Economic growth has fallen dramatically, while unemployment and social unrest are rising sharply. Although China’s leadership has taken urgent action to reinforce political and social stability, the Party faces a constant challenge of renewal. One of the central questions the CER will be examining is the extent to which the leadership is able to manage the tension between an authoritarian political system and economic liberalisation.

See also:
Can Europe and China Shape a New World Order?

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