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Geopolitical Dimension of EU-China Relations

Valentin Katrandzhiev

Europe and China have long history of political, trade and cultural relations. It is in this context that Europe andChina relations have gone through periods of geopolitical cooperation and confrontation After the establishmentof PR of China (1949) until the end of the Cold War (1990) Europe and China went through different stages andpaths of development. While Europe experienced 50-years East-West ideological and geopolitical split, China'sstatehood underwent period of internal struggles, evolution and maturing. The period was also marked bydiplomatic recognition of New China, first by the counties of Eastern and Central Europe right after 1949 (at thattime within 'Soviet bloc'), followed by the countries of North Europe, then by the major West European countries(50-70s). Beijing's status of a great power was reaffirmed after taking its rightful place in the UN Security Councilin 1971. The establishment of official relations between European Commission and Beijing in 1975 marked thestart of a Chinese geopolitical perception of Europe (at that time limited within the boundaries of the EuropeanCommunity/Western Europe) as a collective international actor. The paper aims to make a current study of EUChinarelations from a geopolitical perspective. Both China and EU shares similar positions of multilateralism,economic globalisation (free trade), global terrorism. At the same time the relations are marred by "trade wars","cyber wars", issues of human rights (Tibet). The author will analyse EU-China strategic partnership (2003) andfactors behind its evolution since then. Beijing has long preferred to see the EU as a unified geopolitical actor inworld politics (alongside the US and the Russian Federation) but has started acknowledging its limitations(especially after Eurozone debt and migration crises). EU-China relations will be studied in the context ofrebalancing US/NATO strategic engagement in Europe and EU-Russia worsening of relations following theUkrainian crisis. The paper will also include a review of the impact of Beijing's geopolitical (geo-economic andgeo-cultural) instruments (Belt & Road Initiative and "16+1" China-CEEC cooperation platform) on the upcomingEU-China relations.



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