The European Union and China

Author (Person) , , ,
Author (Corporate)
Series Title
Series Details IF10252
Publication Date 2015-2022
Content Type


The European Union (EU) Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, published in September 2021, outlines an agenda to expand economic, security, and political partnerships in a region that is rapidly becoming “a key player in shaping the international order.” The 27-member EU’s increasing attention to the Indo-Pacific unfolds in the context of transatlantic discussions about the direction of relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC, or China) and the implications of U.S.-China tensions for Europe. Many Members of Congress have expressed concerns about China’s influence in Europe and the EU, as well as interest in policy options for greater U.S.-EU cooperation regarding China.

In recent years, EU views on China appear to have hardened and now mirror more closely U.S. concerns about China’s global influence. In a 2019 position paper, the European Commission (the EU’s executive body) described China as “simultaneously ... a cooperation partner with whom the EU has closely aligned objectives, a negotiating partner with whom the EU needs to find a balance of interests, an economic competitor in the pursuit of technological leadership, and a systemic rival promoting alternative models of governance.” Many saw the paper’s uncharacteristically sharp tone as indicative of mounting frustration with China’s trade and investment practices, its aspirations to become a global technology leader and standard setter, and its promotion of a governance model at odds with core EU values.

Notwithstanding initial suggestions that China’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) “facemask diplomacy” and “vaccine diplomacy” could build goodwill, many analysts assess that the pandemic and other recent developments have further strained EU-China relations. An exchange of sanctions in March 2021 stemming from EU concerns about human rights in China reflected what some observers have described as a low point in relations.

Further information:

This In Focus was first published in 2015 and it has been updated several times over the years. The latest update was published in June 2023. All updates can be checked on the Primary Source link provided below.

Source Link
Subject Categories
Subject Tags
Countries / Regions
International Organisations