Europe in the World

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Europe in the Face of US-China Rivalry

23 Jan 2020 - 12:00
Source: President Donald J. Trump and President Xi of China | November 8, 2017 © Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

This report Europe in the Face of US-China Rivalry published by The European Think-tank Network on China (ETNC) on 23 January 2020 contains 18 country chapters, all from EU member states, and a further one focused on the EU’s perspective on Europe’s difficult balancing act between the US, a long-term strategic and economic partner, and China, the EU’s second most important market and, probably, the next economic superpower. Frans-Paul van der Putten and Monika Sie Dhian Ho contributed the chapter  on the Netherlands and US-Chinese tension (p.115).

The Netherlands and US-Chinese tension: Aiming to avoid painful dilemmas

Economically the Netherlands is the most globalised country in the EU. As a result, it feels the effects of the US-Chinese trade conflict and the trend towards the decoupling of regional economic blocs at an early stage. In response to the US-China tensions, the Dutch government tends to keep a low profile. It is notable that while the US is the main source of pressure, the response of the Netherlands appears to focus mainly on China, in particular on potential risks to Dutch economic security resulting from Chinese policies. The emergence of China as a great power, and the fact that the US has growing expectations relating to it, are changing the long-standing Dutch approach to the EU. Its position has moved away from focussing primarily on the internal market, to allow a greater role for security considerations, and emphasising the role of the EU in supporting its member states to protect a European way of life.

"A strong relationship with the US has been one of the continuous lines running through Dutch diplomatic history." 

Within the EU, the Netherlands is one of the oldest and most faithful allies of the US. At the same time, however, the Netherlands has become China’s second-largest trade partner in the EU, especially due to the economic triangle that also comprises Germany. Increasing tension between the US and China, with conflicting demands of both major powers vis-à-vis third countries, therefore quickly takes the form of painful dilemmas in the Netherlands. Moreover, since economically the Netherlands is the most globalised country in the EU, it feels the effects from the US-China trade conflict and the trend towards decoupling of regional economic blocs at an early stage. 

Read the full report. Find our chapter on p. 115.

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