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Journal Articles Issues & Insights Year : 2023

Europe faced with China’s Rise: of Shields and Swords?


This paper begins by contextualizing European views of the rise of China in a broader historical context. It addresses the claim, made both by European political leaders and by analysts, that Europe has been naïve, not only from a geopolitical point of view but, above all from a geo-economic one. It is suggested that efforts to socialize China into the liberal international order were based, not so much on naïve views of China but rather on a realistic assessment of the capacities available to Europeans, and their overriding concern to advance their economic interests. The Global Financial Crisis of 2008 was a turning point: previously China was a place for European investment for access to the Chinese market and a source of cheap imports. After 2008 China itself had become an investor in Europe and this investment in central and Eastern Europe were seen as creating a “Trojan horse.” Concomitantly, Beijing’s aggressiveness in its neighborhood, as well as President Xi Jinping’s increasing authoritarianism (Hong Kong, Xinjiang, post-COVID-19) contributed to a reassessment of ties with China. From this point Europeans began to put into place defensive mechanisms (shields). The 2019 Communication of the European Commission designating China not only as a “partner and (economic) competitor” but also as a “systemic rival” expressed a paradigm shift in European thinking. Two years later, the embrace of the Indo-Pacific as a theater for European action has put Europe into a more offensive posture (swords) in non-military terms. Potentially, this has opened up both a new area of Transatlantic cooperation, but also greater potential for disagreement.
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hal-03980831 , version 1 (09-02-2023)


  • HAL Id : hal-03980831 , version 1


David Frederic Camroux. Europe faced with China’s Rise: of Shields and Swords?. Issues & Insights, 2023, 23 (SR1), pp.11-24. ⟨hal-03980831⟩
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