china-euEarlier this week, we had a question come in from Carmen KM Kong to our Twitter page about the rise of China and whether or not Europe should feel threatened. With the Eurozone currently in the midst of a banking and sovereign debt crisis, and with John Bruton last week warning that failure to address this crisis will “accelerate the decline of Europe”, it’s understandable that there might be a certain degree of nervousness around Europe’s relative position in the geopolitical order.!/CarmenKMKong/status/126665638512041984

Professor Joseph Nye of Harvard University is widely regarded as one of the most influential international relations scholars in the world, and possibly the most influential on American foreign policy. Debating Europe put Carmen’s question to him and asked if Europe was losing its influence to China internationally. In overseas development, for example, the European approach is seen to emphasise conditionality and encourage ‘good governance’, whilst the Chinese approach is seen to be more about investing in infrastructure and asking fewer tricky questions on human rights abuses. Is Europe still relevant?

The Chinese model of authoritarian development has certain attraction in Africa, but not much attraction in Latin America or other parts of Asia – India for example. And one notes that the authoritarian model that China uses depends upon an effective government. Many countries that might aspire to follow a Chinese model lack that effective government. So I don’t think the so-called ‘Beijing consensus’ will prove to be successful. In the long-term, therefore, I don’t think it will be a threat to the West.

What do the leaders of other countries think, though? Should Europe be worried about losing them as development partners to China? Debating Europe spoke to Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria, and put Carmen’s question to him:

No, there’s no question whatsoever of China upstaging or replacing Europe. What is happening is simply that China is moving out. There are certain resources that China needs, and China is looking all over the world for those resources. Now, my only philosophy, which I preach, is this: Europe, America, they are our friends, our partners and our allies. And we will keep old friends. But there’s nothing to stop us from making new friends.

I think there’s no cause for panic. I believe that Europe should do what Europe can do best, without unduly panicking about China. Let me put it this way: any Nigerian or any African who wants to buy a very precise industrial machine will not go to China. He will come to Europe. But, if he wants to buy equipment for poultry or pigs or something like that, he will probably go to China. So that should not worry you. And I don’t believe that we should unduly worry about that.

What do YOU think? Should Europe be worried about the rise of China? Do you agree with former Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) John Bruton that China’s rise to power is a good reason for Europeans to deepen EU integration? Or do you think China’s rise could be an opportunity for Europe? Let us know your thoughts in the form below and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

28 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Simon Wright

    Chinas rise is extremely worrying. However we dont have to integrate more to counter China,, we simply need to have europe act on the world stage with a single voice more often and stop our businesses being bogged down with regulations.

    Euro federalists need to look at the USA and see their states have more choice than we seem to end up with here in the EU with 27 sovereign states. no more EU integration, just fix the institutions and stop introducing red tape.

    Europe and the USA along with other western nations should reach an agreement that for any product to be sold in our territories, it must be produced by someone with a certain standard of living. That would keep more jobs here at home and stop china exploiting a cheap currency

  2. avatar
    Saurabh Taneja

    We must not under estimate China at all; its huge foreign exchange reserves and trade surplus but mammoth manufacturing capabilities could catapult it into the world’s largest economy. At the present rate of its GDP growth, it would soon surpass US as it have done with Japan. China is speedily acquiring resources around the world to whet its appetite for building its huge infrastructure. Its also working to make yuan a reserve currency thereby targeting dollar which is the pillar of America’s strength. China is doing so by opening up its financial sectors to more foreign investments and slowly making yuan a fully convertible currency. Though there are still a lot of hurdles but its slowly working ahead by increasing transactions in yuan with other countries instead of using dollar.

  3. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    A threat, no I do not think so…A challenge for sure…!! But we should better fix the cracks and faults in our system, so no one will be able to exploit those faults…Better to be safe than sorry…
    I do not see China as a threat, they may be for America that want it all..But Europe should form its own foreign policies and its own relationship with can be proven beneficial if we galvanize our own structures and be strong…

  4. avatar

    In my view, the EU has a lot of reason to feel threatened. China is not only underpricing it in manufacturing goods, investing its money in several European countries and threatening its development objectives in Africa, it is also encroaching upon the sectors in which Europeans believed to have a competitive advantage – research, technology and sustainable development. Besides, there is a cultural aspect. A country in which a single province will have Canada’s GDP in 2020 will pose enormous challenges to Europeans’ jobs, lifestyle, identity and culture by means of popular entertainment, business relations, foreign direct investment etc.

    European politicians start getting worried but I’ve got the impression that the EU is not prepared for China’s rise yet. It often addresses China either as an economic threat or as a human rights violator. To have a fruitful cooperation with China, the EU should move away from its prejudices, try to understand Chinese culture better and interact with it. It is not normal that a Western person in the center of Shanghai draws stares upon him, because people have never seen a Westerner before…

    17/11/2011 Ha-Joon Chang, Reader in the Political Economy of Development at the University of Cambridge, has responded to this comment.

  5. avatar
    hari naidu

    I believe mainland China will invest to make sure EU and its Euro Project is a win-win strategic value to both parties. Of course, in geopolitical terms, there is no gurantee that national intrerests will always coincide and avoid (potential) conflicts, for example, in context of WTO globalization framework.

    I’d not take Nye’s views as gospel truth on relations with China. Principally because he’s partial to US exceptionalism. Mainland China doesn’t aspire for such accolade from other’s. The culture and historical context of Maoist revolution has created a paradigm shift in Chinese concept of themselves, as Han people. It’s also possible, some day, even Confucious will return and becomes its cultural house (e.g. Goethe Institute).

    Those who fear the rise of mainland China should really try to understand the historical rise of China, after fall of Kuomintang rule.

  6. avatar
    Peter Schellinck

    This is actually a valid question, although not new. And, yes, China’s rise to power is a good reason for Europeans to deepen EU integration and thus why the EURO is so important. Volvo, the Port of Piraeus, and the list goes on, are CHINEESE. And does anybody really know how much European sovereign debt they have acquired? Should we wait a little longer and have the Euro replaced by the Renminbi? Europe is at an important cross road and golden opportunity to coach the Euro as alternative to the Dollar and muscle the Renminbi! It’s now or never. If Europe want’s to remain a key player in the global future, knowing that we will not even represent 10% of the world population, then the Euro can be our trump card. The Euro will probably be the only one single thing for us Europeans available to secure an impact on the global economy of the coming centuries.

    I also agree with Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria, that there’s no cause for panic. By 2050, India will have overtaken China in terms of population. The Indian business world has already deeply routed into the European fabric, with success and respect. This has not caused Europe to feel threatened. Rather then deteriorating into an internal fight fueled by national interests rather then the EU project, we should reunite, even if we are to break down national sovereignty, and face the world with one policy, one security, one foreign policy and one currency.

  7. avatar
    Leonardo Baggiani

    Europe would not be worried about China if Europe turned into a knowledge economy thus specialised in production of goods containing a relevant amount of knowledge and information.
    The fact is a lot of lobbies in Europe (especially in the South, where I come from) have successfully managed to preserve the old labour-intensive productions, which are now necessarily suffering from the competition by the low-cost labour-intensive Chinese economy.
    Western economies needed open their markets to low-price products from China to prop up their unsustainable welfare States; they will soon accept Russia as a WTO member for the same reason, I guess, and other weird partners will follow… But this has become a “unilateral game” (with China exports overcoming imports) because of European lobbied politics; with a real “knowledge economy”, Europe could have played a “bilateral game” of it, instead. The result: western economies have made China rich, and now China is spending this wealth.
    Ironically, what Europe must really be worry about is both its miopy, and the very feasible Chinese downturn which its slowing real estate market (see Shangai) is already signalling.

  8. avatar
    İlkay Sevgi

    Very brief answer: Turkey with young and dynamic population, rich natural resources, connection to globe would give Europe enormous strenght.. And please companies do not produce every product in China with Chinese standards.. Why Europe do not continue to produce and sell? I could not find European toys for my son in Turkey; every toy is produced in China..

  9. avatar
    Dr. Rashid Ahmad Khan

    China’s current foreign policy still draws its inspiration from the theory of three worlds it propounded in 1970s. China considers Europe its strategic ally. The rise of China, therefore, does not threaten Europe.

  10. avatar
    John Arran Gordon

    Get the Uk out of the corrupt EU or common market as it was supposed to be…….all about trade they said now the majority of British laws are made in Brussels!! how can the Brithsh coalition talk about democracy in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt when they totally ignore the electorate and stick to there deluded agenda… double standards and Hypocrisy.

  11. avatar
    Daniel Pluskota

    U are right Ilkay. Germany, UK, Scandinavian countries making terrible mistake producing so much things in china. Effects of those mistakes are noticeable now(unemployment, corporations in east asian hands). I think UE shouldn’t discuss about joining countries like Ukraina to UE(because they threaten with low social consciousness and bad eco policy). Turkey would be such better social and economic partner. I don’t understand why they aren’t in UE now.

  12. avatar
    Michal Kovac

    All companies are making terrible mistake. No in producing something there but in the trade at all.

  13. avatar
    Pawel Bienkowski

    In world politics Europe has a distinct advantage towards China in contrast with the US-China relations. I.e. the EU shares with China some common values and interests regarding the shape of the international system, multilateralism, free trade and others. Chinese scholars and policymakers frequently reiterate their pursuit for reform of the international economic framework so that it would better mirror the status of growing powerhouses of the world. No doubt that China plays its own economic and political interest in the first place. But at the same time Europe is a natural ally for China in putting up an effective framework for the new century. However, a threat not to be underestimated is a deficit of reciprocity and interconnectedness in EU-China relations. While the US and China are mutually tied up with each other by strong trade ties and federal bonds purchases, the EU is gradually loosing all its advantages by allowing extensive technology transfer to China. In sum, China’s rise is neither intended as a threat to Europe nor does it proceed in this way so far. Nevertheless, a strong and unified position of the EU is crucial in order to withstand China’s rise and stay competitive. This is a prerequisite for strategic partnership.

  14. avatar
    Herminio Cerqueira

    U.E. must work together with China , India and Brasil to conterbalance the unpropriate importance they give to the U.S.
    U.S. leaders does not understand that their problem is not the fall of the Dollar but the rising of the others ( China, India, Brazil…)

  15. avatar
    Albert Saxén

    well, they build aircraft carriers so, why not ..

    more important they absorb U.S debt. by buying their securities. So, how that reverberates into Europe ..

  16. avatar
    Anthony Voscarides

    China is an powerhouse of manufacturing, however some technology was not acquired through legal channels and basically copied to create cheaper versions that sell in China and elsewhere. Although this can happen in other places, the sheer scale in China is a game changer. In order for the EU or US to create vision and the execute the design of a new technology, it took at least decades of education and technology evolution that costs trillions and much hard work. I think that this advantage should be protected but not restricted as we need to help evolve other places. The risk now is that all that is simply being copied, jobs transferred and simply sold back to us cheaply. We need some thought on how to help each other as nations and what is the vision through this changing world.

  17. avatar

    no china is to big for itself, the more capitalist it becomes, and it will as the people get more benefits from a booming economy
    they will want more and then the divisions start and ancient tribalism is reborn and then a country fractures into smaller countries and there you go, as for india they really are a decent honourable people give or take a few cricketers of course but no those worries are not for us its the french and germans we should worry about they dragged us all into world wars twice already and we heard merkel insanely saying this could cause a war, simply because the greeks were dragging their feet, just like a certain leader of a german socialist party in years gone by would have acted. its all so sad and its all going to end badly! why has the press decided not to make more of that comment, were they told to button it?

  18. avatar

    Stupid question, why is no one asking if the EU rising is endangering the USA, Russia, China etc., why is it that the Chinese have to be looked at as a threat, this attitude that Europe is somehow special and needs to defeat any other strong power is ridiculous and reminds me of the colonial top down attitude the Europeans showed in Africa, South America etc., be happy for China rising as they are over 1 billion and if China rises 1 billion Humans rise, China will not be Europas enemy unless Europa decides to make China its enemy.

  19. avatar
    Nonde Lushinga

    China’s rise should certainly threaten the EU in the sense that most of their foreign aid to Africa is characterized with conditionalities that unfortunately conflict with African beliefs, norms and culture. A case in point is respect of guy rights which Africans do not subscribe to. However China is willing to give its aid without jeopardizing traditional beliefs of African countries and i personally see Europe loosing grip of Africa.

    Africa has a lot to learn from the Asian giant in terms of development. Its high time Africa improved its infrastructure but it appears the west want Africa to focus on issues of human rights, governance, gender equity but Africa need much more than that. Need good health care, good education, infrastructure, energy and technology. one wonders who is at the centre of wars in Africa, it is certainly not China, therefore am at pains in knowing who the true friend of Africa is. Africa has no problem with China in terms of internal politics. President Obasanjo elluded to the fact that there’s nothing wrong with making new friends which i totally agree but i would want him to come out strong on perpetrators of violence in Nigeria, kidnapping of young girls, and oil scandals, who really is interested in Nigerian oil? who is at the centre of war and terror in DRC Congo and other African countries?. Is he a friend of Africa. Africa needs to be above the level where people can be used to fight each other. No one person in Europe can become a rebel to fight his government but the opposite is true in Africa. The Chinese model can help Africa keep away from bad friends who are deceitful. But i take my hat off for people who in the intent of their heart mean well for Africa. on the other hand i support the position that the rise of China has certainly been felt by EU as they all are after African raw materials.

  20. avatar
    Lawrence Michael

    “Effective Government” as Joseph Nye puts it. “Nothing to stop us from making new friends (while retaining old friends.)” as Olusegun Obasanjo puts it. Well, one supposes that much is said in between the two. Yet the question that crops up, before one looks at the two to summarize the discussion (I will not call it a debate since I am part of a discussion but not a debate here), what does one fear about China’s growth, if it has shown signs that needs it to be feared? Cycle-Rickshaw-pullers in India honking about what they never were a part of, or can be?!

  21. avatar
    Ari Rusila

    Ongoing western sanctions due Ukraine are pushing China and Russia to close cooperation – the great Eurasian axis is already in motion. The Russian response to ongoing western sanctions has been launching a counter-strategy that could bring the cost boomeranging right back to Washington. Namely, the formation of a potential non-dollar trading block among major players in the global energy markets including Iran and China.

    Moscow, allied with the BRICS, is actively working to bypass the US dollar. The core point is that Russia is not alone. Besides the BRICS also the G-77, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the whole Global South is critical to U.S. led bullying and would like to have other alternative in international relations.

    If China does decide to back the yuan with gold and no longer use the U.S. dollar in international trade, it will have devastating effects on the U.S. economy. If other nations stopped using the dollar to trade with one another, the value of the dollar would plummet dramatically.

    In my conclusion the era when the IMF, World Bank, and U.S. Treasury could essentially dictate international finances and intimidate or crush opponents with sanctions, pressure and threads are drawing to a close – the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization are two nails in that coffin. These independent poles (BRICS, SCO, USAN) are developing fast and it remains to see what their ultimate impact on international politics will be – my scenario is that the impact will be a drastic shift from U.S. dominance to more balanced juxtaposition of U.S. and Eurasia.

    P.S: More in ¥uan and Waterloo of Petro$ (Part 1/2) –

  22. avatar

    I think, that given time, China will become a international superpower. Although this may just be me and my non-existent expertise with the volatile minefield of politics, I think it’ll gradually develop into a second USA. Europe shouldn’t get on the bad side of China but at the same time, as long as we don’t declare war or anything, it’ll contribute a lot to the world (sorry, vague, thinking of examples now… erm consumers? to the market? no???). Maybe we should consider treating it respectfully like America when it PENTAGONIZES but for now… LEAVE IT ALONE AND IT WON’T BITE is my opinion. But yeah don’t be like “we’ll tolerate everything you do cus ur developing n we find u cute” or whatever.

  23. avatar
    fandi Omeish

    europeon countries have to invest more in knowledge & researches. moreover, it have to upgrade an intensive production system and utalize unemployment rate factore to employ people with low wages and by this they will become near to the competition points they might face when comparing them with china amd india.

    europe should consider the below facts about China & India:
    1- economies in both countries are growing rapidly at high and constint rate ( china growing by 9.5% & india 6%)
    2- low cost labour but increasingly in technical and manegerial skills )
    3- china poses strength in massive manufacturing & industrial cababilities
    4- china have vast population which means consumers spending more at these countries

  24. avatar

    Is it the over 90% trust of the people which the PRC government has won which has threatened the EU? Is EU people innate hate giving trust to good government? When China’s rise is a threat to EU, why EU cannot work harder and create a stronger EU so that its people do not need feel threaten all the time? In my opinion, those politicians feel threaten are just incapable to do better so they have to divert attention to an external enemy. Are we not witnessing the problem of the US presidential elections which focused more on anti-China or anti-Russia, while ignored everything of their own people. Rather than taking care of its messy inside the America, and taking care of its own dying people, all senior officials go around Europe to attack China and taking care of the Muslims in Xinjiang…Europe ought to learn from the failure of the US as well as the success of China.

  25. avatar

    Cannot understand why China’s rise is a threat to EU when EU is under the military protection of a military superpower, when Europe’s per capita income has just reached $10000 in 2020 while a majority of the EU member states have reached the level of affluent. China has 1/5 of the world’s population, When each Chinese has spent $1, it is a wealth of $1.4 billion. China’s rise means more $1.4 billions of wealth to create. However, China is the third or even the second military power. If we don’t want a real threat from China, don’t challenge China with its national/territorial security. Throughout its 5000 years of history, China has been going to war for national/territorial security only.

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