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European Think Tank Network on China - Report on Political Values in Europe-China Relations

10 December 2018

Last week, the European Think Tank Network on China (ETNC) published its latest report, titled "Political values in Europe-China relations". In its report, the group of researchers from 17 European states analyze the role political values (democracy, human rights and the rule of law) play in Europe's China policy, and whether China has any influence on the understanding of political values in Europe. 

The report finds that three particular factors are of importance to the variety in European approaches towards China: historical legacy, economic relations with China and Chinese pressure. The report has classified the 17 studied European states' China policy into degrees of 'activity' and 'vocality', whilst also analyzing whether these respective China policies are aligned with the EU's China policy. It finds that even though there has been a general downgrading of the importance of political values in the approaches to China of most European states, younger democracies have been more affected by this trend. States with a larger per capita GDP tend to be more active in the field of political values; close trade relations with China also correlate with a higher level of activity in this field. Meanwhile, the share of Chinese investment does not make a major difference. Instead, investment in strategic sectors of the economy or the hope of attracting Chinese  money to fill an investment gap are more decisive factors.

Chinese pressure has led some European states to reconsider their level of activity in promoting democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. Nonetheless, Europe has not taken political values entirely off its China agenda. Still, Europe's recent impact on China's political values has been rather limited - with the exception of a number of limited individual cases.

Find the entire report here.