red-man-blue-skyThe People’s Republic of China is a single-party state capitalist country. The European Union is a quasi-supranational union of 28 democracies. Can two such different systems overcome their ideological differences in order to cooperate effectively on the world stage?

We had a video question sent in by Zhou, who wanted to know how the EU and China could avoid misunderstandings caused by ideological differences. At a recent Europe-China Forum held in Brussels by our partner think-tank, Friends of Europe, we put this question to Men Jing, Professor of EU-China Relations and Director of the EU-China Research Centre at the College of Europe.

She thought that better communication and more opportunities for contact at all levels between the EU and China would help each party to better understand the other:

We also put Zhou’s question to Diego Sammaritano, Policy Officer for Research and Innovation with China at the European Commission. He agreed with Professor Men Jing, but added that joint-collaboration projects in research and development could also prove to be very powerful tools. Could stronger economic and research links between the EU and China help to build a durable and productive relationship?

Finally, we also spoke to Jonathan Peel, Vice-President for External Relations at the European Economic and Social Committee. He argued that what may seem to be ideological misunderstandings between Europe and China may actually only be cultural misunderstandings. Perhaps, ideologically, we are closer than we think?

Can Europe and China overcome their ideological differences to cooperate effectively? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Austin Yoder

32 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Breogán Costa

    EU = salvage capitalism
    China = salvage capitalism hidden behind a communist flag (commies-capitalism, I would call it)
    EU = representative “democracy” (it is not a democracy, just dictators for 4 years, no warranties at all about that they are going to do what they promised -in many countries, they clearly lied) = hidden dictatorships
    China = dictatorship government
    EU = factories in China…
    China = factories in China…
    It is not a big difference.

  2. avatar
    Filipe Brás Almeida

    Try living there Breogn Costa and Ivan Burrows while making the exact same statements you’ve made here.

    Then send me a post card from prison.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Filipe Brás Almeida
      Things change. I clearly remember some EU states [you know the ones] being lead by dictators only a few decades ago.

  3. avatar
    Eu CuMine

    By focusing on important issues and tough negotiations, keeping in mind that there are important cultural differences, China’s needs, not forgetting that today is almost impossible to live isolated. What does China has to offer? What can EU give up on in order to cope with the new trends in world politics? Somewhere in between lies a possible answer to the question.

    • avatar

      What can the EU give up on?

      Democracy perhaps? Though thats mostly gone already.
      Workers rights? They’re working on more free trade treaties to accelerate the race-to-the-bottom.
      Food security? No problem, TTIP will allow American corporations to sell poison for food.
      Environment? TTIP to the rescue again, governments will have to pay corporations if they dare to pass environmental legislation.

  4. avatar
    Tarquin Farquhar

    China is one of the world’s 2 MEGA-CULTURES – India being the other. The EU is a diverse and disparate bloc on the decline.

    The EU CANNOT impose/enforce anything on China, thus the ideological differences will persist.

    Additionally, the Chinese work-ethic, its respect for education and its culture of control WILL ultimately put the EU in the shade both in terms of achievement and too influence.

    What little ‘tech’ advantage the EU has over China would be eliminated if the EU ‘co-operates’ with China in matters of research.

    FTR, I am a great admirer of Chinese culture – for all bar the last few hundred years it was always a world SUPERPOWER both militarily and indeed culturally.

  5. avatar
    Tarquin Farquhar

    @Jonathan Peel

    The DEATH PENALTY is allowed in BOTH China and the EU (see the Lisbon Treaty).

    INFORMATION CONTROL – BOTHChina and the EU [re the recent EU requirement to compel Google to remove specific links] practice same.

    CORRUPTION – BOTH China and the EU are renowned for their respective high-levels of corruption.


    ONE-LANGUAGE – Hmmm, China is in the ascendancy here BUT with greater POLITICAL UNION in the EU comes greater LANGUAGE UNION viz. English. Hopefully the EU will catch up on this one ELSE it will be at a distinct disadvantage.

  6. avatar

    The EU is effectively also a single-party-state. If you don’t toe the ‘more integration, more power to the EU and less democracy because it is annoying to Brussels apparatchiks’ line then you will be treated as an outcast. Brussels looks down with contempt on all those who dare suggest the undemocratic EU isn’t good, and the journalists it pays and think tanks it funds do the same.

    What exactly are those ideological differences? They disagree on the pace at which workers must be stripped from their rights? They disagree on how to enrich the elite and keep the rest down?

  7. avatar
    David Fuzzey

    What difference….the eu takes no notice of no votes and expands by treaty not by the consent of people.

  8. avatar
    Aris Georgiadis

    In China invests a few billions I think that the “civillized” EU can overcome everything.. Ideology was never the problem actually ;) See the example of Gadafi he was the biggest friend-investitor for many years and after 20-30 we “discover” that his regimn brakes the human rights and the other staff …

  9. avatar
    Manuel Alonso

    The EU is not a country is a league of countries each one thinking how to spend the german and rich countries money.
    Then, we can not compare us with China that is a country and a nation with more than 2000 years.

  10. avatar

    I don’t they can. They should approach each other with friendly intentions and respect. If any one of them (or both) is going to change it will come with time. Change should come from the inside. It does not work if it is imposed from the outside.

  11. avatar
    Trond Johannessen

    Why should we overcome them. Hold on to them and respect each other for the diversity of beliefs. Trade is the uniting factor. We’re not getting married anytime soon.

  12. avatar
    Trond Johannessen

    Why should we overcome them. Hold on to them and respect each other for the diversity of beliefs. Trade is the uniting factor. We’re not getting married anytime soon.

  13. avatar

    What’s the problem with China.We should rather work together with them and teach those Saudi-Arabias and whatever they’re called a lesson.Those guys have an ideology

  14. avatar
    catherine benning

    Does China have the same ideological differences we have? I mean this link does seem to ask if the Chinese heads of state also fiddle the taxes of large companies in order to fill their personal pockets in the same way our politicians in Europe do. And get away with it the way ours do? Then to be placed in even higher positions at the next call, just like the European tax payers are stuck with year after year.

    Please, give me a break. What a con this lark is.

  15. avatar
    Davide Vavassori

    All these simplifications don’t have sense. China and EU have no chance to overcome their differences, their cultural and historic values are too different. The point is to identify if the EU and China can stop looking for an impossible agreement on values and theorical goals and start to cooperate on emirical basis on shared priorities. If they continue to look forward a ethic mutual comprehension to be put on the basis of empiric agreement, they will never experience the meaning of cooperation.

  16. avatar
    Andreas Harasson Kefalas

    I agree 100% with Trond. Why should we overcome them? We are not getting married. As long as we respect each other we can do business together. Let us not forget that the EU has the second biggest economy in the world and also comes second in population. China is also in the top 3 for both categories. So we have two big players who must cooperate for a mutual benefit.

  17. avatar
    catherine benning

    I feel the EU and China, along with the rest of the world, should read these links explaining the US duplicity over the IMF. And adjust their thinking and policies accordingly. As well as take on board, once and for all, the US and sabotage go hand in hand.

    Follow that up by perusing this. It will broaden your horizons.

    Then, if you haven’t seen enough you could do the same here.

    And do not leave this one out. It is a must for political students.

    Followed by this.

    Then we read how these same banks are doing exactly what we have thrown out on here for so long, they are turning us all into wage slaves. Read all about it.

    And last, but, by no means least, how Austria thinks it can protect itself.


  18. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    China lives behind a communist geopolitics and coporante system and europe has a more modern world democracy yes me should respect each other and pave the new trade roand

  19. avatar
    British Patriot ;)

    “How can the EU and China overcome their ideological differences?” – By accepting them as differences. They are no problem unless we decide they are a problem. It is not our place to tell China what standards it must run its country by nor vice versa

  20. avatar

    Why EU intervene into ideology of China? China has never said anything to intervene yours? In international relations has been based on reciprocal. If EU cannot even respect such reciprocal principle, how can the international society of states cooperate for collective security and interests of the human species.

  21. avatar

    Ideology is outdated war propaganda during the two great wars. It is better for the West not to do lip service on freedom, liberty and human rights. The West ought to respect the version of freedom, liberty and human rights of the East. Human nature and culture has never been uniform. Human species can only survive and sustainable development can achieve when differences can be respect and peaceful coexistence is the key.

  22. avatar

    Demo = people. EU democracies ought to take care of the EU people. China is taking care of its people too. When EU democratic governments have been opted out by interval during universal suffrage. The Chinese government changes by voting in the People’s Congress. However, Chinese government trust tops the global ranking. Apparently, government trust does not come from ideologies but contributing genuine goods to the people. It is better to talk more why the ideologies of freedom and democracy cannot win people’s trust instead of overcoming ideological differences. <>

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