Universal consensus exists that China over the last 20-30 years has developed at an astonishing speed to become the second-largest economy in the world that is headed towards becoming a global power. Already today, the world’s power relations no longer reflect the West’s, including America’s, commanding place in the world’s power hierarchy. It cannot be denied that China is committed to developing its economic potential in order to be on an equal footing with the United States, not to mention the European Union.

What is the Union’s place in this new power arrangement? European countries, as others that have relations with China, face a strategic choice. What is to be the appropriate trade-off between relations that create a mutual gain, against accepting China’s rules that not always follow EU or WTO rules and principles? This is a challenging dilemma which if not handled right could mean, as French President Macron recently claimed, that Europe could be marginalized, against the backdrop of U.S.-China competition, and an assertive Russia. Like it or not, Europe has returned to the arena of power politics.

Full analysis in PDF is freely available here. 


Jānis EichmanisAssociate fellow at the Latvian Institute of International Affairs