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Dependence in Europe’s Relations with China

26 Apr 2022 - 09:52
Weighing Perceptions and Reality

This report is a publication by the European Think-tank Network on China (ETNC) based on analyses of 18 countries and EU institutions. 

For the eighth report since its inception in 2014, the European Think-tank Network on China (ETNC) brings together analysis on 18 countries plus the European Union  to examine how dependencies on China are presented in European public and policy-level debates, and how the notion shapes policymaking in each case.


Contributions by Clingendael experts

Introduction: Europe Debates (or doesn't) its Dependence on China
By John Seaman, Francesca Ghiretti, Lucas Erlbacher, Xiaoxue Martin and Miguel Otero-Iglesias

The idea that Europe has grown dependent on China is now a common refrain, but just how is this notion understood in capitals across the continent? Europe today is clearly in the midst of searching for a balance between openness and security—between yielding the benefits of interdependence and reducing the vulnerabilities of dependence. This is not a process that is solely about China, but it is nevertheless one that will fundamentally impact relations with it. A robust body of work is being done by EU institutions to understand Europe’s dependencies and craft policies to address them at the macro level. While written independently, the report makes a qualitative complement to these ongoing efforts. A striking observation from this analysis is that, beyond the EU institutions, surprisingly few states have made concerted efforts to assess their dependencies with any degree of depth. In only a quarter of countries observed has there been a significant level of public debate coupled with concerted policy-level action to both understand and address issues around dependence.

Read the introduction on pages 12-23.


The Netherlands: Still assessing Dutch dependence on China
By Xiaoxue Martin

“Dependence on China” has become a hot topic in public policy debates in the Netherlands over the last five years. Moreover, as Dutch perceptions of China have grown significantly more negative overall, dependence on China is increasingly framed as a problem. More and more areas of possible Dutch dependence on China have been pointed out and are almost reflexively viewed in a negative light, regardless of the exact size and strategic relevance of the dependence. As such, the Netherlands is currently in the “problem identification phase”, while the formulation of solutions to address the problem is still in progress.

Read this chapter on pages 121-127.

Download full report.

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