Political & Strategic Relations

The European Union and China: A Maturing Partnership

China has undergone dramatic change since it opened to the outside world in 1978. It has become a major trading nation thanks to a rapid internal transformation that has made it shift from a centrally planned economy to a market-driven one engaged in global commerce. The country's accession to the World Trade Organisation has accelerated this process.

China now is a power increasingly engaged in world affairs and seeking a political status commensurate with its economic weight. Chinese foreign policy is now also engaged in issues of global concern (environment, fight against terrorism, world trade liberalisation etc.).

The EU itself is changing in ways that will lead China to adjust its own strategic vision of the European continent. The introduction of the Euro has had a profound impact on the Chinese leadership, business community and public opinion. The EU enlargement, the building up of EU defence and security capacities, and the willingness of the EU to assert itself on the world stage through common foreign policy mechanisms are all ingredients of an ever-increasing interest for strengthening Sino-European relations.

The EU's main objective is for China to occupy the position it deserves according to its size and geo-strategic importance in the international community, both politically and economically. The EU supports the process of economic and social reform underway in China. It backs China's transition towards an open society based upon the rule of law and respect for human rights, and believes this will benefit China's development and social stability.

The EU's China Policy:

  • To engage China further, both bilaterally and on the world stage, through an upgraded political dialogue.
  • To support China's transition to an open society based upon the rule of law and respect for human rights.
  • To encourage the integration of China in the world economy through bringing it fully into the world trading system, and supporting the process of economic and social reform that is continuing in China.
  • To raise the EU's profile in China.