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The Chinese Mission to the EU organized a workshop on China-EU relations on 17 June 2010. The following recommendations are supported by the Europeans present at the worshop, in the light of the discussions between them and representatives of the Mission, led by HE Song Zhe:

Long-term

1. Mutual understanding
2. Jean Monnet methodology
3. 2011 China-EU Youth Year
4. Strategic thinking

Short-term

5. Market economy status
6. Dialogues
7. Rule of law
8. European Parliament
9. Communication

Long-term

1. Mutual understanding

This is the principal long-term recommendation. Trust builds from working together. Mutual understanding facilitates working together. European and Chinese misperceptions abound and must be corrected. All sectors of society at all levels should be involved. It is vital that when a public policy issue is discussed, each side tries to understand how the other sees the problem and in what context.

There is increasing contact between different groups (Commission & Chinese Administration, European Parliament & the National People’s Congress, European Economic & Social Committee & Chinese Social & Economic Council, think tanks…) but they all act independently of other groups and sometimes independently within their own group.

The High Level Cultural Dialogue, the 2011 EU-China Youth Year and the 2012 Year of EU-China Intercultural Dialogue have the potential to become prime examples of a concerted effort to address public and political misperceptions. Consideration should be given to linking EU ‘Years’, such as 2011 European Year on Volunteering. with specific EU- China projects

Success is more likely if MEPs are included in as many ways as possible, and that there is a non-elitist approach (ie the inclusion of cultural sector stakeholders during the High Level Cultural Dialogue; reaching out to off the radar public schools and universities in China and the EU during the Youth Year).

Businesses that have a stake in a constructive and positive EU-China relationship need to be mobilized.

Recommendation: A High Level Committee of Mutual Understanding, be set up, composed of active representatives of the stakeholders in society (and not ‘establishment figures’), funded by the Commission & Chinese Government, to encourage coordination and to act as a catalyst; and to establish a website to enable Chinese and European groups to find partners to work together. The High-Level Cultural Dialogue may serve as an excellent opportunity to launch such a Committee.
2. Jean Monnet methodology

Jean Monnet’s methodology can help day-to-day China-EU relations. As we have seen, there are dozens of bilateral dialogues and working groups, which meet from time to time, each side presenting its position. There is rarely real intercourse, rather questions and comments, and the two parties do their own thing and reconvene a few months later for an exchange of updated but static positions.

The participants should instead be seeking out the common interest and seek common solutions to common problems. Instead of sitting opposite each other they should be sitting on the same side of the table with the problem in the middle. The dialogues and working groups should be dynamic and ongoing with regular contact between formal meetings.

Both Beijing and Brussels need to approach the relationship holistically and horizontally with so many policy areas now interlinked.

Recommendation: The Chinese government and European Commission should examine how to change the methodology of the dialogues and working groups.

(Note: the Chinese Mission is financing the publication this year of a pamphlet in Chinese and English on Monnet thinking and methodology.)

3. 2011 China-EU Youth Year

This is a great opportunity to promote mutual understanding. It is essential that it involves all the stakeholders as ‘youth’ is up to 30 years old. The opportunity should be taken to launch longer term initiatives during the year which include people-to-people exchanges.

Recommendation: Informal stakeholders’ groups in China and Europe should be set up to work with the government and Commission respectively.

4. Strategic thinking

Politicians and officials in office rarely have time for strategic thinking. In both China and the US, think tanks play a key role in the development of strategy. In contrast, European think-tanks have little influence at EU level, partially because they are under-resourced and partially because they do not often provide timely and relevant policy input.

Initiatives such as ECRAN do not provide a durable solution to this problem, primarily because they tend to be exclusive.

Recommendation: The Commission should fund a study of how to remedy this lacuna, and the Commission and the Chinese government should increase funding to support China-EU think tank meetings and (demand-oriented) policy recommendations.
Short-term

5. Market economy status (MES)

There is deadlock n trade relations because neither side wants to address the other’s core concerns or make real concessions.

China will, in any case, obtain MES in 2016. The EU is reluctant to grant MES without receiving something in return. Chinese commitments on market access cannot be guaranteed to be implemented in practice. We should therefore find a package deal involving another policy area, eg climate change. The granting of MES would give a vital morale boost to the relationship.
Recommendation: Chinese and European think tanks should have a Track II exchange of imaginative thinking with a view to finding a solution.

6. Dialogues

Dialogues etc are potentially important and workable instruments. However, there is no defined process and the proliferation of dialogues results in lack of coordination.

An overarching dialogue strategy should be formulated to address the fragmentation which has emerged from the ‘bottom-up’ culture of the Dialogues. Most policy areas are now interactive and an umbrella is needed to bring coherence to the exercise. Bilateral issues need to be addressed in a multilateral framework. The Dialogues should also be transparent and accountable with an effective monitoring system. There is currently no transparency and little or no overall coordination or dissemination and communication of results

The structure, organization and working methods of Dialogues should be agreed and standardized.

Recommendation: Each Dialogue should report annually to a single joint body on its activities during the year, agreements reached and the results of such agreements, current difficulties and its future programme. The joint body should submit a composite report to the annual summit with its conclusions and recommendations. This report should form an annex to the summit declaration. Key blockages should be put on the bilateral summit agenda.

7. Rule of law

Debate on human rights should not be conducted by megaphone diplomacy or with a preaching attitude. This inevitably provokes confrontation and a defensive Chinese approach There needs to be common ground. The Chinese government is publicly committed to improving the rule of law and this is an area where the two sides could agree a common agenda.

Recommendation: The Human Rights Dialogue should be folded into a Rule of Law Dialogue and areas of cooperation developed.

8. European Parliament (EP)

The EP’s interest in China is usually confined to human rights, Taiwan, Tibet and trade matters. The EP will have to approve the Partnership & Cooperation Agreement and any other treaty with China. A concerted European-Chinese effort is needed to widen the EP’s understanding of China. The vehicle exists to do this – the Informal European Parliament Dialogue on China, co-chaired by Elmar Brok MEP and Reinhard Bütikofer, and organized by the Brussels Institute of Chinese Contemporary Studies (BICCS).

Recommendation: The Chinese government should financially support speakers from China at such meetings.

9. Communication

Chinese communications to Europe and the West are usually written in a style which is unconvincing, and sometimes counterproductive. They are usually untimely.

Recommendation: The Chinese government should delegate communications to local missions and embassies which should employ European communications advisers. Think tanks and experts on public diplomacy should also be involved.

Europeans participants were:

Fraser Cameron EPC
Stanley Crossick BICCS
Pierre Defraigne Madariaga Foundation
Iiana.Dreyer ECIPE
Duncan Freeman BICCS
Jonathan Holslag BICCS
Shada Islam EPC
Piotr Kaczynski CEPS
Pieter. Swieringa Groningen University

This paper is being sent to Ambassador Song, President Barroso, HR Baroness Ashton, Commissioner de Gucht, Commissioner Vassiliou, Secretary General Catherine Day and Ambassador Abou, with copies to appropriate officials
Stanley Crossick
19 July 2010
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Comments

  1. Dear Stanley Crossick,

    I know that my question is not closely connected to your post but I would be grateful for your help. I am writing my MA thesis about EU-China relations with special attention to the situation in Xinjiang and Tibet. I am concentrating on two case studies: the riots in Tibet in Marc 2008 and on the skirmish in July 2009 in Xinjiang. I am having hard time to find reactions to riots from main European leaders. So I was wondering If you can help me where can I find these statements or press releases concerning this two special cases. Besides can you help me where may I find a summary of European (EU) policy towards Xinjiang and Tibet if there is one? If there is no such thing can you recommend me a study or summary where can I find the attitude or the approach of the EU or the member states’ attitudes & policy on Tibet?

    Thank you for your help in advance.

    Kind Regards,

    Gerg?

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