Security Relations between the European Union and China: From Convergence to Cooperation?

Thomas Christiansen, Emil Kirchner

Over the past decade, the EU and China have expanded their relations from a dominant focus on economic and trade issues to the sphere of politics. As their shared interests and aims have grown over this time, issues of joint security concerns have become more prominent in their relationship, albeit more in the area of non-traditional security issues than traditional (military) ones and at the bilateral rather than at the global (e.g., United Nations) level. The aim of the proposed paper is to explore the extent to which perceptions and practices of security, despite existing differences in identity formation and over sovereignty issues, have converged between the EU and China, and the degree to which any convergence has led to cooperation between the two powers. In particular, the paper seeks to explore a range of key themes in the field of EU China security cooperation such as nuclear proliferation, international terrorist threats, and cyber attacks.Analysis of this kind will help to establish the areas (traditional versus non-traditional security aspects, or within the latter) where security cooperation between the EU and China is present (and of which degree) or, as the case may be, is absent. Information on this will be to shed light on the question of whether EU-China relations will continue to be dominated by economic relations (trade, investment and finance) or whether these relations will become more balanced in the future, thereby demonstrating that the Mature Strategic Partnership of 2003 between the EU and China is based on more than mere rhetoric.

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