Strengthening EU-China cooperation in the wake of increasing global challenges

Event: Regional and International Affairs

European and Chinese experts discussed the current status of European integration as well its implications for the development of Sino-European relations during a one day seminar at the Chinese Institute for Contemporary International Relations (CICIR).

Dedicated to its self-awareness as not only a German, but also a European institution, FES organised a joint seminar with the Chinese Institute for Contemporary International Relations (CICIR) on Sino-European relations.

Under the title of “Strengthening EU-China cooperation in the wake of increasing global challenges” experts from both sides discussed the current developments inside and between the world’s biggest and third biggest economic entities.

During the morning session, Dr. Uwe Optenhögel, Vice-President of the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) and Dr. Steven Blockmans from the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), presented the recent developments inside the European Union, including challenges such as far-right populism, internal divisions or Brexit, but also initiatives for reform and renewal of the EU as well as a European foreign policy under construction. In turn, the Chinese side explained the continuities and recent changes of China’s foreign policy following the CPC’s party congress in October 2017 and the full assembly of the National People’s Congress in March 2018.

During the afternoon session, the focus shifted towards issues in bilateral relations.

Prof. Dr. Gerhard Stahl, former EU official and now Professor at the College of Europe and the Peking University Business School in Shenzhen, gave an elaborate account on the structure of bilateral economic and trade relations, whereas Prof. Dr. Jean-Pierre Cabestan from Hong Kong Baptist University touched on various issues ranging from the Belt-and-Road Initiative (BRI), relations with the United States and Russia, minority policies, etc.

A topic repeatedly mentioned by discussants from both sides was Europe’s position on the US-China trade conflict as well as differing views on the BRI, perceived as political by European, but as a solely economic initiative by Chinese experts. In this context, experts agreed that further opening-up, transparency and exchange of viewpoints are necessary.

On the question of China’s engagement with certain EU member states, one important finding was that –independently from external factors – the current EU decision making process in itself is inclined to allowing minor divisions to cause paralysis of the EU as a whole.

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