PapersThe European Union in the WorldBetween competition and co-operation: How to engage with China on climate

Between competition and co-operation: How to engage with China on climate

By Centre for European Reform

China is the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter as well as the largest investor in renewables. Whether on reducing global emissions or advancing the green transition, the EU cannot afford to ignore the country. How should Europe engage with China to advance climate action? In 2019, the EU coined a new way of talking about its increasingly complex relationship with China. According to this threefold approach China is a partner, a competitor and a systemic rival.1 The wording tries to pull off a balancing act: protecting good relations in certain areas while acknowledging that there are many points on which the EU and China not only disagree but have fundamentally opposed interests. Systemic rivalry is often brought up in the context of China’s efforts to assert its influence in its neighbourhood and globally. China has its own values which are different from those of the EU. The dimension of competition is clear when it comes to business interests. Technology is another dimension in which the EU and China compete. But where is China a partner?

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Author: Christina Keßler, Clara Marina O’Donnell Fellow, Centre for European Reform.

This article is available on the Centre for European Reform website.

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