Episode 10: Transatlantic Strategy on China: Still Elusive?
Never before has China featured so prominently in discussions among political leaders in Europe, Germany, and the United States. There is a growing consensus in Germany that China represents a significant and qualitatively different challenge than Berlin had long assumed. A similar re-assessment has been happening for quite a few years in the U.S., but in a much more public fashion, and it has accelerated under the Trump administration. How do the United States and Europe describe China in their official assessments?
China is the first country named in the U.S. National Security Strategy, which states: “China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity. They are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence.” Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, the European Commission just released its China Strategy in March, noting, “There is a growing appreciation in Europe that the balance of challenges and opportunities presented by China has shifted. In the last decade, China’s economic power and political influence have grown with unprecedented scale and speed, reflecting its ambitions to become a leading global power.”
The EU strategy goes on to cite areas of cooperation with Beijing, but it pointedly calls China “an economic competitor in the pursuit of technological leadership, and a systemic rival promoting alternative models of governance.” German industry has a similar view, with the Federation of German Industries issuing a major report early this year calling China a “systemic competitor.” (Listen to Episode 5 of The Zeitgeist, when we talked with one of the leading minds behind that report, Dr. Stefan Mair).
On any number of issues, seems to be a growing convergence of views between the U.S. and Europe, and that would seem to open the door to greater cooperation—a transatlantic effort to set priorities, develop compatible policies, and carry them out in a coordinated way.
In this episode of The Zeitgeist, Noah Barkin joins Jeff Rathke to talk about a transatlantic strategy with regard to China. Why does it remain elusive? Do the U.S., Germany, and the rest of Europe have the commonality of interest and the necessary trust and confidence in each other to make China a top policy priority? Or will that remain out of reach, like the old saying in the U.S., that “soccer is the sport of the future and it always will be”?
Jeff Rathke, President, AICGS
Noah Barkin, DAAD/AICGS Research Fellow and Berlin-based Journalist
Support for this episode is provided in part by the Steven Muller New Initiatives Fund.