Reports and papers

From a China strategy to no strategy at all

27 Jul 2023 - 12:48
Source: ©European Union, 2017
Exploring the diversity of European approaches

This report is a publication by the European Think-tank Network on China (ETNC). 

In this report, we take stock of national approaches to China across EU members states and important countries such as the United Kingdom, Norway and Switzerland. Experts from 24 countries have contributed their analysis, and the MERICS office in Brussels provided a chapter outlining current EU policies vis-à-vis China. Authors focused on the following guiding questions:

National China strategies: Where do member states and other European countries stand?

  • Key finding: Almost all European countries have developed strategic approaches to China. However, only a minority of European countries has published an official China strategy. A larger proportion of European countries has China-specific approaches embedded in their policy frameworks.

Mechanisms: How do European countries coordinate and share information on China?

  • Key finding: Within governments, the level of attention for China-related issues, coordination, steering, knowledge and mechanisms of information sharing differs considerably between the countries analyzed in this study.

EU tools: Which national instruments exist for implementation?

  •  Key finding: EU member states apply defensive tools conceived by Brussels differently.

Risk analysis: Which approaches do countries take?

  • Key finding: Risk analysis is an approach in the making. However, only the EU itself, Finland and the Netherlands have presented systematic and public analyses of dependencies.

Working with China: In which Chinese institutional frameworks do countries participate?

  • Key finding: European countries are increasingly wary of participating in Chinese frameworks.

Spotlight on Taiwan: What activities exist in this contested space?

  • Key finding: Taiwan is a nonissue for some, but there is a trend among others for increased exchanges at the political level.


Chapter: Netherlands: The securitization of China and protecting Dutch technology

By Clingendael expert Vera Kranenburg

The Dutch government published a China policy paper in 2019, which was the first major China policy document since 2013. Between 2013 and 2019, ‘China’ has become an issue of public debate. The 2019 policy paper, the core tenet of which is “open where possible, protective where necessary,” shows that certain parts of the relationship with China have become securitized. Since then, the balance between openness and protectiveness is shifting further towards “protection.” More coordination across government on China exists today. New initiatives such as the China Knowledge Network, the Information and Contact Point for regional governments, the Contact Point for Knowledge Security and an investment screening law show that the Dutch approach to China continues to evolve. A major topic for future development of Dutch China policy is the role of technology.

Full contribution on p. 108 of the report.

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