August 12, 2019

The Old World and the Middle Kingdom

Europe Wakes Up to China’s Rise

By Julianne Smith and Torrey Taussig

Europe is beginning to face up to the challenges posed by a rising China. From the political debates roiling European capitals over the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei’s involvement in building 5G mobile networks to the tense EU-China summit earlier this year, recent events have shown that European leaders are growing uneasy in a relationship that until recently both sides saw as immensely beneficial. They worry about the political influence China has gained, especially over the EU’s smaller members, and its growing economic clout and technological prowess. They are starting, tentatively, to push back.

To better promote its interests, Europe should use its economic, political, and diplomatic power to level the economic playing field with China, guard against Chinese political influence, and defend democratic values at home. Yet two things stand in the way of such a strategy. First, Europe remains divided over how seriously to take the Chinese challenge. In contrast to the strategic shifts happening in Berlin, Paris, and the EU capital, in Brussels, the leaders of many smaller states still see only the economic benefits of deeper engagement with China. Second, Europe finds itself caught in the middle of a growing U.S.-Chinese rivalry. It cannot abandon its long-standing ties to the United States (even as it squabbles with the Trump administration over everything from tariffs to defense spending), but it also cannot afford to weaken a trade relationship with China worth well over $1 billion a day. Europe is walking a fine line by nominally resisting China’s predatory trade and investment practices but not issuing any meaningful threats. So far, playing it safe has failed to persuade China to change course.

Read the full article in Foreign Affairs.

  • Commentary
    • War on the Rocks
    • August 23, 2022
    To defeat autocracy, weaponize transparency

    Democracies have a significant advantage in weaponizing transparency at scale to highlight autocratic activities that break international norms or inflict damage on local econ...

    By Ryan Fedasiuk & Garrett Berntsen

  • Podcast
    • August 12, 2022
    Defense One Radio, Ep. 106: Decoding China’s Taiwan saber-rattling + RIMPAC 2022

    Becca Wasser, fellow for the Defense Program and lead of the Gaming Lab at the Center for a New American Security think tank in Washington, D.C, joins the the Defense One podc...

    By Becca Wasser

  • Commentary
    • Inkstick
    • May 4, 2022
    Can Macron Play Nice with Other Europeans?

    To fully realize his ambitions for the bloc during his second term, macron will need to take greater care to forge consensus across eu member states, rather than repeating his...

    By Nicholas Lokker

  • Podcast
    • April 21, 2022
    Macron vs. Le Pen Redux, with Célia Belin and Ben Haddad

    What can we expect from the final round of the French presidential election? The possibility of a Le Pen presidency poses major concerns for the future of the European Union a...

    By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend, Célia Belin & Benjamin Haddad

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia