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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Is the EU on the Same Page as the United States on China?

Special Forum

Is the EU on the Same Page as the United States on China?

Theresa Fallon, European Institute for Asian Studies (EIAS)

“There is only one thing worse than fighting with allies, and that is fighting without them.” Winston Churchill
The European Union needs China, first and foremost, as an economic partner and, second, also for addressing international and regional crises. China uses its leverage and lobbies the European Union to stay out of the South China Sea dispute. As a result the European Union tries to avoid this issue, leaving the United States to fight on its own for freedom of navigation there. Will the United States be able to sway the European Union into supporting its position?
China backs changes in global governance as a strategic objective. It is slowly reweaving the international fabric of interrelations and governing structures. In contrast, the European Union behaves as if geopolitics and power politics no longer exist. It often prefers to see Chinese actions as benign, which breeds complacency. Robert Kagan famously compared Europe to Venus and the United States to Mars. But, as Robert Cooper wrote in 2003, “Most of the rest of the world lives in a modern world of states competing for power, or in a pre-modern world of failed states.”1 To paraphrase Tolstoy, Europe’s postmodern approach leads some to declare that they are not interested in geopolitics—but geopolitics is always interested in them.

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