/ New Release of European Think-tank Network on China (ETNC) is out!

This report brings together experts from across the continent and is a collaborative effort of the 21 research institutes. The report includes analysis from 19 countries revealing the complexities of Europe’s relations with China amid the Covid-19 crisis.

  • While the situation is still highly fluid, the crisis has so far simultaneously brought Europe and China into closer cooperation, pushed them further apart, and seemingly amplified many of the fractures that exist within Europe on how to approach an increasingly powerful and influential China.
  • Structural issues in Europe-China relations – including the contours of multilateralism, enhanced investment screening and the extent of European strategic autonomy in areas relevant to China – will become more prevalent as time wears on.
  • Covid-19 crisis assistance has been mutual, while commercial exchanges in medical supplies from China to Europe have far exceeded aid volumes.
  • Meanwhile, Chinese diplomats have become more visible and proactive across much of Europe, particularly on social media.
  • While China’s increasingly proactive public diplomacy is widespread, there is a diversity in methods that ranges from low key (see Latvia or Romania) to “charm offensive” (see Poland, Portugal, Italy or Spain) to provocative or aggressive (see Sweden, Germany or France).
  • China is becoming an increasingly divisive topic of internal political debate in many European countries. At the same time, China’s actions toward Europe in this time of crisis seem to amplify the fractures across the continent.
  • Still, it cannot be excluded that, as time wears on, China will prove to be a catalyst for the emergence of the much-heralded “geopolitical Europe”. Indeed, China has recently sparked common European initiatives on issues such as investment screening, 5G and industrial policy, and galvanized strategic policy thinking in a number of capitals.
  • Finally, debates across Europe have not been immune to the US-China rivalry, and this is likely to be a key feature as debates move toward more structural issues in a post-Covid-19 world.
The full report is freely available here