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Event Report: 26 June: Event Report: Book launch on EU-China in the European Parliament

27 June 2019

The EU-Asia Centre co-hosted a book launch discussion the library of the European Parliament on 26 June. The book ‘Europe, China and the Limits of Normative Power’ featured a panel with the author, Zsuzsa Anna Ferenczy, Professor Jonathan Holslag (VUB) and Weinian Hu (CEPS). The event was chaired by Fraser Cameron, Director of the EU-Asia Centre.

In her opening remarks Ms Ferency said that no one could deny the challenge to Europe posed by the rise of China. It was all the more difficult for the EU to find a coherent response when it was fragmented, held different views on the promotion of normative values and faced a number of internal crises. The influence of the EU on China was limited but could be more effective with a coherent approach.

Professor Holslag said that the answer was a much tougher approach towards China. The EU had been naïve in believing that China would change after its entry into the WTO. The trade deficit was unsustainable and the EU had to be able to defend itself. The recent strategic agenda published by the Commission was a step in the right direction.

Weinian Hu said that the 68 EU-China dialogues had made an impact in certain areas as China had to respond to the regulatory powers of the single market. But there remained a fundamental conceptual difference in the approach to human rights (societal v individual) and this would not easily be overcome.

Fraser Cameron noted that the EU was a lone beacon promoting normative values as the Trump administration showed little interest. Its first priority was to put its own house in order and avoid charges of hypocrisy.

In the discussion there were questions about the Chinese approach to trade and investment, climate change, the rule of law, Africa and the Belt and Road Initiative.