Presentation of the Study about EU-China relations before the AFET Committee, the European Parliament

Andreea Brinza | 10 April 2024

RISAP’s Andreea Brinza presented together with Richard Turcsanyi the Study EU-China relations: De-risking or de-coupling – the future of the EU strategy towards China in front of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET).

Based on the research and analysis conducted for this study, we proposed a set of recommendations for the European Union:
• The EU should develop a comprehensive and consistent long-term China strategy, based on its desired end goals;
• The European Commission and the EP must work together to hone this strategy;
• The EU needs better communication regarding the triptych “partner, competitor, systemic rival”, especially better explaining the “systemic rival” feature and what it implies; Internally, EU stakeholders must also recognize that the triptych is not a strategy and the proposed actions in the 2019 Joint Communication are no longer relevant, as they have either been implemented or abandoned;
• The EU should establish a China-knowledge institution, staffed by a few dozen experts specializing in China covering various fields, such as: international relations; economics; politics; society; and military issues. This institution would help EU and member state institutions with issues related to China;
• The EU should work to mitigate the risk of a military conflict in the Taiwan Strait, while also preparing for such a scenario;
• On Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU should avoid publicly expressing confidence in China’s role as a mediator or crisis solver;
• The EU should improve its relations with G7 allies or like-minded partners from the Indo-Pacific region by engaging in the security and military fields, including involvement with naval deployments or exercises, in which the EU can help by working and coordinating with interested Member States governments as well as engaging with Indo-Pacific allies;
• The EU should strive to assume the role of the preferred ‘third actor’ in places such as Southeast Asia – after China and the US;
• The EU should not only continue to promote human rights and democratic values, but also criticize abuses wherever and whenever they happen;
• The EU should seek greater cohesion among Member States on the concept and strategic aims of de-risking relative to China and the broad framework of economic security;
• Addressing dependencies, risks and supply chain vulnerabilities will require skillful balancing between the risk of not doing enough and the threat of doing too much, by veering into protectionism and threatening the global economic order. De-risking should be seen as an exercise in risk mitigation or risk management, instead of a wholesale remaking of economic relations in order to eliminate all risks.
• Europe should deepen, expand and refine its partnerships with the Global South, which should be an integral and important part of the EU’s broader strategic vision for the international order and foreign policy;
• The EU should avoid creating an impression that the Global Gateway is a response to or a competitor of China’s BRI and that it is, thus, a geopolitical strategy rather than a development initiative;
• The EU should also invest in creating a global public communications infrastructure through which to promote its vision and values around the world, especially in the Global South where China has successfully invested resources in publicly promoting its vision and perspectives;
• To expedite crucial infrastructural development in the Western Balkans, the EU should persist in advancing investment mechanisms, notably through the Economic and Investment plan and the Global Gateway initiative;
• The EU should strategically prioritize its enlargement policy as a pivotal tool for fostering the development of democratic culture, practices and institutions in the Western Balkans;
• The EU still benefits from a relatively good image in China and it should therefore deepen its public engagement with the Chinese people to maintain these positive perceptions.

Photo Credits:  European Parliament


Andreea Brinza

Andreea Brinza is a researcher and the Vice President of RISAP. Her interests are related to the geopolitics, geostrategy and geoeconomics of the Asia-Pacific region and especially China. Her research focuses on the Belt and Road Initiative.

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