Glimpse at EU–China relationships since 2008

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United Europe-China relations have a long history. For many years they have developed successfully, but not along a simple course. The main thesis of this article is that the year 2008, which is associated primarily with the onset of the financial crisis in Europe, became a watershed in the history of bilateral relations between EU and China. Over the past few years the agenda and the role of the actors, and also the content and format of discourse have changed dramatically. This article is devoted primarily to some aspects of the EU’s position in relation to China and, to a lesser extent, to the position of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Therefore the history of contacts between the two sides will be considered especially in the light of some EU publications, while China will be outside our primary area of focus. Unlike many studies on economic cooperation between EU and China, our paper will accentuate the political component of the relationship. We shall try to demonstrate that, beginning with 2008, Europe has been partly losing its status as the driving force in the EU-China dialogue. We will conclude by addressing the problem of adequate understanding of Chinese political texts, without which no political communication of Europe with China can be successful. A critical analysis of a recent document prepared by the EU eliminates some problematical points within the united Europe, which affect the effectiveness of its Chinese policy. Our method can be described as eclectic in the sense that it borrows arguments from a variety of political research techniques and terminologies (discourse analysis, historical institutionalism, engagement and stakeholder theories), as well as from sinological (by which we understand the analysis of Chinese texts in the cultural perspective) and historical approaches.

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