Conceptualizing EU-China Relations at the 13th EUSA Conference

EU-China CRN panel at the 13th EUSA Conference
EU-China CRN panel at the 13th EUSA Conference

From May 9-11 2013, the thirteenth Biennial Conference of the European Union Studies Association (EUSA) took place in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Fostering the UACES Collaborative Research Network (CRN) on EU-China Relations, Prof. Thomas Christiansen from Maastricht University and Prof. Emil Kirchner from Essex University convened a panel on Conceptualizing EU-China Relations. Mads Jensen from the University of Copenhagen showed in his contribution that economics still dominate the agenda of EU-China relations. Frauke Austermann, Assistant Professor at ESSCA Shanghai and CRN Board Member, argued that not least due to the ongoing Euro-crisis, the EU can be conceptualized as a declining economic player vis-à-vis China. At the same time, however, the EU has strengthened its political profile towards China, such as through its new prototype foreign ministry, the European External Action Service (EEAS). Prof. Philomena Murray from the University of Melbourne underlined this by revealing a lack of an Asia strategy in Europe. On the other hand, Thomas Christiansen from Maastricht University and Emil Kirchner from Essex University observe a sharpening of political ties, too. Different ideational foundations in Europe and China, such as in terms of the nature of international relations, the meaning of ‘strategic’, as well as the perception of Self and Other complicate political relations between the EU and China. Prof. Roberto Dominguez from Suffolk University discussed the papers. He agreed that the EU-China agenda is dominated by trade but that there is certainly political leverage. In any event, the European Union lacks a coherent strategy towards China. Double standards are probably most visible in the case of human rights. Research on conceptualizing the relationship between China and the EU is hence needed also to identify the causes for this lack of strategy.