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The EU and Strategic Partnership with China: How Much Strategy? How Much Partnership?

Michael Smith, Joint paper with Huaixian Xie

This paper examines the evolution of EU strategies towards China since the mid-1990s, asking two central questions. First, how has the EU developed a strategic view of its relations with China, and what influences does this view reflect? Second, has the aim of creating a strategic partnership with China been carried through into concrete proposals, negotiations and outcomes? The paper falls broadly into three parts. The first part explores the development of EU strategies through the late 1990s and early 2000s, with reference to key official documents and statements. The second investigates the motivations and influences lying behind the proclamation of a 'strategic partnership' with China in the mid-2000s, and looks at the evidence for such a partnership in EU-China economic and diplomatic relations, whilst the third assesses the recent and current state of negotiations for a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. The conclusions evaluate the two key questions, reflect on prospects for further development of EU-China partnership, and also briefly compare the EU's pursuit of partnership with China to the policies pursued by the United States since the mid-1990s.

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