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The EU, the US and China: Strategic Engagement, Political Commitment and Diplomatic Interaction in Multilateral Fora

Michael Smith

This paper addresses the issues arising from the engagement of the EU, the US and China with multilateral forasuch as the G2, the G3, G7/8 and G20. The first part of the paper explores the extent of and variations in thisengagement, and links it to changing patterns of global power distribution and institutional structure, arguing thatasymmetries of engagement and interaction reflect both strategic choices by and structural pressures on the threeparties. The second part of the paper explores the extent of commitment shown by the three parties, both tocooperation in general and to specific initiatives undertaken in different multilateral forums, arguing that variationsreflect the desire on the part of the EU, the US and China to promote specific interests, to accomodate globalpressures or to defend existing positions. The third part of the paper investigates the diplomatic interactionsinvolving the three parties within multilateral forums, and argues that differences of diplomatic style and cultureprovide an important element in an explanation of their mutual relations. The paper concludes by considering theways in which mutual engagement in multilateral forums has re-shaped the nature of the EU-US-China 'triangle'and by discussing the implications of this for EU policy in particular.

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