582-W195 Thesis

582-W195 6



The EU and the US stances visa-vis China converge and conflict asworld powers.

The question of the EU and the US stances vis-à-vis Chinaconverging or conflicting with each other can be discussed throughreviewing various aspects. To start with, the UE and the US play amajor role in the economic, political, military and power of theglobe asserts Robert et al. These three impact the internationalsystem profoundly and play a significant part in the changing powerbalances. According to Cinn (2007), the EU comprises of Europeanstates and the US all the United states of America have a great rolein determining China’s fate. Despite the fact that each actor isinterested in preserving their power and international order, China’srise and economic strength is tremendous leading them to lack aconsensus for important aspects in the international order. Thispaper will investigate how the EU and US position vis-à-vis Chinaconverge mainly. A small portion of how they conflict will also bereviewed to help balance the views.


The history of EU-US and China relations dates back to the world war.However to understand the convergence between these two states withregard to China, it is important to understand that since the worldwar, they have been termed as great actors in terms of politics, theeconomy and military prowess. Their international and globalinfluence has however been influenced by China an emerging power.China has been growing more rapidly in terms of economic as well asmodernizing its military power than the EU and the US argues Cinn(2007). According to Men and Shen (2014), the EU and the US share alist of similar interests and concerns with regard to the China’srise as a great power internationally.

Literature review

The convergence of EU and US vis a-vis China is evident insimilarities like existence of

  • Common transatlantic values

  • Overlapping trade related matters

  • Similar position with regard to trade deficits

  • Concerns in political and security related fields (Men and Shen, 2014)

Common transatlantic values

Chinese policies are reflected in numerous declarations on bothAtlantic sides. The EU and the US strategies are based on the commonobjective of working with China so that its development contributesto prosperity and international security. This leads to an approachthat engages China bilaterally and within international institutions.This brings Beijing closer to western positions on major issues thatare mainly economical and political like rule of law, sustainabledevelopment, human rights, climate change, economic openness andtrade.

Trade related matters overlap

EU and US aims on trade related matters are significant excludingthe obvious competition between European companies and America.According to Raun (2008), the EU and US are China’s largest tradepartners. As a result, they converge their interests to see Chinaabide by the international rules and norms including those regardingfinancial liberalization, intellectual property protection, marketaccess and dumping practices. At times, the US acts as anintermediary between the China and negotiates an active role in termsof Beijing’s access to WTO. China agreed to about 700 commitmentswith the highest price ever paid to join WTO by countries. Thiscreated a degree of economic protection between developed andadvanced countries. There is reluctance by the EU and US in agreeingto China’s request for recognition in the market economy status.This technical measure would make it more difficult to open caseslike antidumping against firms in China under WTO.

Trade deficits

Convergence on trade deficits with China is visible between the EUand the US. Important distinctions need to be made with this regard.Despite the EU and China deficit having grown for years almost to apoint of catching up with the US trade imbalance, there is no causefor political concern in Europe as in America. This is due to EUmaintaining a healthy trade record overall unlike the US where thedeficit is a worrisome balance of payments (Heisbourget al. 2008). US-China economic relations are complicated by the factthat most Chinese trade surplus is recycled into the Americanmonetary and debt market. Much of the capital flow from EU-Chinatrade deficit is diverted towards the US creating a dangerousfinancial interdependence between Washington and Beijing.

Political and security concerns

The US and EU share political and security related concerns. Europeand the US have adopted large measures to influence China rangingfrom sanction imposition in political dialogues. The two conflict asthe tactics have however been different with EU preferring a discreteapproach while the US goes for confrontational stance. The EU and theUS also focus on different specific rights. While Washington forexample focuses on dissidents and political prisoners, Europestresses on death penalty, media freedom, work safety, genderdiscrimination amongst others (Men and Shen, 2014).

Nuclear non-proliferation is another case of EU and US convergencevis-a-vis China. The US has engaged with China in thenon-proliferation field for the longest time. Commentators argue thatthe diplomacy of US is the main independent variable playing acrucial role in explaining the evolution of non-proliferation inChinese policies.


Despite the EU and US approaches converging, they also havesignificant degrees of conflict and context in relation to how theyreact to China’s rise. This is as a result of the two actorsplaying a major role in the world. The main distinction is that theUS is a super power on one hand while the EU is also a super power onthe other hand. The US is for instance strategic with militaryinvolvement while the EU is a global power with its stronghold aswell. China’s increased military strength may not pose a threat toEU as it poses to the US for example (Men and Shen, 2014).


The convergence of EU and US vis a-vis China is evident through,their common transatlantic values, overlapping trade related matters,similar position with regard to trade deficits and concerns inpolitical and security related fields.


Cinn,M. (2007). EuropeanUnion Politics , 2ndedition, Oxford University Press.

Heisbourg, F., Emerson, M.,European Security Forum., Centre for European Policy Studies (Brussels, Belgium), International Institute for Strategic Studies.,Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces., &ampGeneva Centre for Security Policy. (2009).&nbspReadingsin European security: Vol. 5.Brussels: Centre for European Policy Studies.

Men, J., &amp Shen, W. (2014).&nbspTheEU, the US and China – Towards a New International Order?. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Robert, S. Oystein, T and Zhang, T. (ND). US-China-EU relations,managing the new world order, Routledge Taylor and FrancisGroup, from http://www.bc.edu/sites/libraries/facpub/rosschina/book.pdf

Ruan, Z. (2008). China-EU-US relations: Shaping a constructivefuture in David Shambaugh, Abingdon:Routeledge, p.287-300