Strategic Foresight


EU security policy towards China

12 Mar 2013 - 13:27


This article discusses the EU's security policy with regard to China, and how this may be developed further. The European Union has three main options with regard to the security dimension of its China strategy.

The first is to continue its long-standing approach of emphasising economic relations while keeping a low profile in security affairs. This approach is becoming less attractive, as pressure from Washington on the EU to be more visible in East Asian security affairs is growing, Europe's economic dependence on China grows, and the significance of East Asian stability and Sino-US relations for Europe is increasing.

The second option is to closely follow the US strategy, and thus support Washington's policy of increasing pressure on Beijing. The problem in this regard is that it is not in Europe's interests to support the perpetuation of US global leadership at all costs, if this involves the danger of long-term global instability, the paralysis of global governance, and possibly even a Sino-US war.

The third option is the one proposed by this chapter. The strategic aim of contributing to East Asian stability and stable US-China relations provides a concrete long-term objective, namely the building, with active European support, of a Pacific Community. It would provide a framework for the various policies and aims that exist in the current approach to security, defence and military affairs in EU-China relations.

Although this is not a matter that can be addressed exclusively or largely from within Sino-EU bilateral relations, China is obviously a key actor on which to focus. Such a strategy would indirectly support the EU's interests in China's and East Asian economic affairs, by contributing to stability and by making the EU more visible as a political actor in the region.

The full publication can be accessed here.