Bringing Europe's Leaders Together

Club of Three Webinar
The road ahead for Europe and China: equal partnership or systemic rivalry? – 14 October 2020

In October, the Club of Three held a webinar on the current state of relations between Europe and China. This was the second in a series of webinars planned for the Autumn.

The coronavirus pandemic had laid bare Europe’s vulnerabilities, prompting calls to make its economy more resilient and less dependent on China’s manufacturing and technological capacity. At the same time, China had shown increased strength and self-confidence with recent displays of its power in Hong Kong and with India over its border dispute in the Himalayas.

Although the US seemed to be heading towards a decoupling with China, Europe had so far sought to strike a different balance between continuing economic partnership and a warier response to China’s greater international activism. This had led to difficult decisions in particular on technological collaboration, especially with respect to 5G, but also with new constraints on Chinese investment in European industry.

Going forward, and expressing similar priorities on climate change and the importance of multilateralism, could Europe and China develop a relationship on an equal footing or should Europeans abandon all illusions of a trusted partnership and brace themselves for a new era of systemic rivalry?

Some 30 senior figures from business, the policy field and academia in France, Germany and the UK took part in this one-hour Zoom webinar.

The three main speakers were:

*Reinhard Bütikofer, Chair of the European Parliament’s delegation for relations with China and Greens/EFA spokesman in the foreign affairs committee

*Dr. Fang Xinghai, Vice-Chairman, China Securities Regulatory Commission; Formerly Senior Advisor to President Xi Jinping on economic affairs

*François Godement, Senior Adviser for China, Institut Montaigne; Non-resident Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Participants included: Lord Sassoon (British Conservative peer and Chairman of the China-Britain Business Council); Bruno Weill (States’ Representative, EU Chamber of Commerce in China); Sir Mike Rake (Board Adviser; Chairman of BT Group, 2007-17); Hans-Christoph Atzpodien (Managing Director, BDSV); Guy de Jonquières (Senior Fellow, European Centre for International Political Economy; Former FT World Trade Editor and Asia Commentator); Margarita Mathiopoulos (Visiting Professor, Dept. of Diplomacy, China Foreign Affairs University; CEO, ASPIDE Technology UK Ltd.); Nigel Inkster (Senior Adviser, IISS; Former Director of Operations and Intelligence, British Secret Intelligence Service); François Heisbourg (Senior Adviser for Europe, IISS; Special Adviser, Foundation pour la Recherche Stratégique); Sarah Raine (Consulting Senior Fellow for Geopolitics and Strategy, IISS).