The emergence of China and its increasing significance in the international order precipitated Europe’s 'pivot to the East'. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1975, there have been a number of changes. On one hand, following Deng Xiaoping’s policies, China underwent an unprecedented economic transformation, a process which has extended over the last several decades and led to its current position as the world’s second-largest economy. On the other hand, the European Union has continued to deepen its sui generis integration project at an economic and political level, creating an area of peace, security, and prosperity on the continent. The economic ties between the European Union and China have greatly intensified over the years, as illustrated by the fact that China is now the EU´s second-largest trading partner and the EU is China's largest.
This relationship has brought prosperity and new opportunities to both parties, but some challenges remain. The European Commission has encouraged the EU to seek a more balanced and reciprocal relationship with China. However, in March 2019, the European Commission described China as a “cooperation partner”, a “negotiating partner”, an “economic competitor” and a “systemic rival”. The inclusion of the last term suggests a change in the European perception and subsequent approach towards China's global power.
In the context of the 'polycrisis' in which we find ourselves, namely without satisfactory answers to growing economic inequality, the sense of loss of identity and voice, or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, among others, it is imperative for the EU to readdress both its strategic objectives and its role in the world. Unity, consistency, and vision should guide the EU’s engagement with China and more broadly, the international community.
"Engaging and cooperating with China is both an opportunity and necessity. But, at the same time, we have to recognize that we do not share the same values, political systems, or approach to multilateralism. We will engage in a clear-eyed and confident way, robustly defending EU interests and standing firm on our values."
Remarks by President Charles Michel (European Council) after the EU-China summit 22 June 2020.
WHY IS THE CREATION OF EUROPEAN GUANXI NECESSARY?
European Guanxi represents a dedication to developing an empowered network of young European professionals, scholars and students who will impact the dynamics of the EU-China relationship on all fronts. This involves a commitment to connecting young people with one another in the domain of EU-China relations, providing these people with an avenue to express themselves and share their thoughts and ideas. In this vein, European Guanxi also provides a broader platform for debate, discussion, and analysis of EU- China relations to take place.
Our values centre around mutual understanding, trust, and cooperation and we shall strive towards a future where EU-China relations are defined by these values. Moreover, these values permeate through all actions undertaken by European Guanxi in a desire to create a brighter future where understanding, trust, and cooperation are prominent features of our global society.
Through promoting the voices of our members and dialogue with external organisations, European Guanxi will achieve an enrichment of China and Europe’s visions of one another as well as gain an understanding of the state of play and the direction EU-China relations should follow. This is an opportunity to acquire a comprehensive knowledge of the complex dynamics of China that will pave the way for a more unified European voice.
European Guanxi aims to:
— Provide in-depth discussions on bilateral relations between EU member states and China, and subsequently on the EU-China relationship more broadly.
— Create a network of China-focused young Europeans with presence all over the continent of Europe, elsewhere around the globe, and in China.
— Contribute to the harmonisation of the EU’s geopolitical standing regarding China and its position in the world by contributing to the refinement of its policies on China.
— Analyse China’s foreign policy and its relations with EU and its member states.
— Collaborate with other organisations, entities or individuals who share the same objectives.
—Focus on a comprehensive engagement with all levels of interaction between the EU and China.
All costs incurred in the creation and establishment of European Guanxi have been assumed by the co-founders. In time, as EG grows, we will accept donations and funding.This process will be completely transparent and we will update this section as soon as we receive our first external financial contribution.