China-EU Relations: Post-Summit Perspectives

China and EU Flags
Courtesy Friends of Europe/Flickr

This article was originally published by the Polish Institute of International Relations on 27 July 2016.

The latest EU-China summit confirmed the increasing discrepancies between the two sides. China, in protecting its own market, treats European investors unevenly. Simultaneously, the PRC is seeking unlimited access to the EU market to export products resulting from its overcapacity. The EU is concerned about subsidised Chinese exports, which may increase unemployment in Europe. There are rifts in the normative domain as well: China has not accepted an arbitration tribunal’s decision about the South China Sea. The EU, in supporting peaceful means of resolving international disputes, has acknowledged the ruling. Now more than ever, the member states should take into account the European context of relations with the PRC and coordinate their policies towards China with the EU institutions.

The latest EU-China summit (12–13 July) was held after the release of a new EU strategy towards China and coincided with an announcement by an arbitration tribunal of its decision about the South China Sea.[1] The new strategy is the EU’s response to China’s global ambitions and the increasing number of problems in bilateral relations. The noticeable differences in the topics raised by the two sides during the summit vindicates the assumption of deepening discrepancies, including asymmetry in relations at the expense of the EU.

Foreign Aid and the 28 Percent Myth

The crew of USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) loads boxes of food and water into helicopters during humanitarian aid missions to Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia. Image: Tyler J. Clements/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by Harvard International Review on 11 March, 2015.

Public opinion on United States foreign aid varies widely depending on who is being asked. However, one domestic opinion on the matter is clear: we spend too much on foreign aid. In a 2013 poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, the majority of Americans wanted to either maintain or increase spending for almost all US government initiatives. Foreign aid was the only exception. Facing a national debt of more than sixteen trillions while news of humanitarian initiatives in foreign nations proliferate, it is not surprising that so many Americans believe the US should be cutting back on foreign aid. However, much of this sentiment is based on an ongoing misconception — the majority of Americans believes the US government spends 28 percent of its federal budget on foreign aid. In reality, foreign aid accounts for only 0.7 percent. Military aid, which is accounted for separately, makes up another 0.5 percent.

The -isms of American Foreign Policy

Looking in Different Directions? photo: Arthur Chapman/flickr

To understand the United States’ role in the world, familiarity with the various frames that decision makers in Washington rely on when formulating foreign policy is helpful. Most statecraft blends these, kind of like a color wheel. The basic contours, however, personified by four giants of American history, are as follows:

The Extroverts

Hamiltonianism maintains that the US should pursue a realist foreign policy, balancing interests, especially material ones, and fundamentally seeks to promote an expansionist agenda. Hamiltonians support a robust national security establishment, a strong dollar policy and a muscular industrial base; in effect the US from WWI to the Great Recession. Domestically, these are the establishment Republicans exemplified by figures such as father George H. W. Bush.

Wilsonianism also subscribes to the furtherance of the Pax Americana. But whereas Hamiltonians favor material interests, Wilsonians emphasize the normative, touchy-feely moral aspects of foreign policymaking. Wilsonians are frequently labeled idealists, like to set up international institutions, are bleeding-heart humanitarian interventionists, prefer to co-opt other states rather than impose their will on them, and ultimately seek to consolidate a global society defined by liberal American values.

A Seasonal Reading List

Candle light, photo: Alesa Dam/flickr
Candle light, photo: Alesa Dam/flickr

In light of our weekly theme – religion and international affairs – we thought we’d link to an excellent reading list compiled by Foreign Affairs on this very timely and often ignored topic.

Whether seen as a civilizational clash; a clash between modernity and traditionalism; secularism and religion, the nature of conflict in the international realm makes it clear that powerful forces are at play and tend to evolve, more than ever, around religious identities and clashing interpretations thereof.

As Foreign Affairs notes, the relevance and effectiveness of US and indeed western foreign policy depends on acknowledging the place religion occupies in global politics and engaging in candid conversations that include both secular and religious voices.

Instead of allowing religiously couched fear-mongering to take root in our minds and in our policy, and effectively allowing Huntington’s ‘clash’ to become a self-fulfilling prophecy, we need to engage openly with religion in the political realm, while keeping in mind that religious rhetoric often masks deep socio-political malaise and distinctly non-spiritual problems.