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The EU and China: partners in effective multilateralism?

By Liselotte Odgaard, Sven Biscop (2006-04-21)

In Other publications

In a way, both the European Union and China can be seen as new global strategic actors in the politico-military dimension of world affairs. While both, in view of their economic and demographic weight, for some time have certainly had the potential to become global actors in the field of foreign and security policy, it is not until recently that they are actively waging policies in these fields. Because of their weight, the emergence of the EU and China as global strategic actors constitutes a new structural factor that has an enormous impact on the world order and on world events. This impact first became apparent with regard to the EU. The ongoing development of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), to which was later added the military arm of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), has notably led to – as yet unresolved – questions regarding the nature of the transatlantic partnership between Europe and the US and the future of its most visible expression, NATO. China set foot on the stage slightly later, but this step caused even more reverberation.
This paper aims to assess whether the EU and China have just their position as debutants on the international politico-military scene in common, or whether they share strategic views to an extent that would allow them to establish a true strategic partnership, i.e. structural consultation and active cooperation on a wide range of foreign and security policy issues.

Paper presented at the conference on the International Politics of EU-China Relations sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the British Academy, 20-21 April 2006.
(Photo credit: PMorgan, EveryStockPhoto)