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System Effect and Decision Making: Understanding the 'Chinese Economic Assertiveness' in the EU's Eyes

Xiaoguang Wang

It is not exaggerated to say the European-China relation was generated from economic activities by the Silk Road 2000 years ago. Nowadays, the economic issues are also the dominating topics between the European Union (EU) and China, as the first one is the largest destination of Chinese products while the later one the second largest for the EU products. However, the economic boom is always coupled with quarrels, which are increasingly influential to the EU-China relations.In the sizzling debates, the EU side complains that China has been increasingly showing “Economic Assertiveness” that means China frequently employs the economic weapon to realize its political purposes. The rear earth export control and the demanding status in the Eurozone bailout are two remarkable cases. Traditional evaluation ascribes the reasons to the enhanced Chinese economic muscle and mushroomed global political ambition.Robert Jarvis initiates the analysis to the “system effect” in international relations. Different from other scholars paying attention on international relations system, Jervis focuses on the “system effect” on the political elites’ decision-making. In his argument, a certain foreign policy is not necessarily made for the one who is influenced by the policy, but rather, made for someone else outside the game. A certain policy also could lay down the result unexpected, and these unexpected results are inevitable and difficult to predict and Jervis raises massive cases to prove the “system effect” in international relations.My paper would try to account for the “Chinese Economic Assertiveness” from the perspective of the “system effect”, with case studies to the Chinese rare earth export control and the demanding status in the eurozone bailout. Through explore the origin and development of these policies, this paper argues that some alleged “Chinese Economic Assertiveness”, like rare earth export control and demanding condition to get involved in eurozone bailout, could be difficult to be explained by endogenous reasons in the EU-China relations. Instead, they are the consequences of the “system effects” of China’s relation with other global players. The EU, due to its loosen system position with China, has been influenced by the tight system, such as the US-China relation. And the European illusion “Chinese Economic Assertiveness” could be explained by this perspective.



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