The Rise of China and the Decline of European Union Ties

By A Akshita 6 Min Read
Last updated: July 18, 2022


For centuries, China and Europe were locked in a rivalry that often came to a head in the form of large-scale wars. This competition was especially pronounced during the Age of Exploration when European powers embarked on ambitious voyages of discovery to find new trade routes and expand their empires. However, today relations between the two regions are at an abysmal low. In recent years, Chinese authorities have been criticized for their treatment of human rights activists and religious minorities, while Europe has become increasingly concerned about the rise of China as a global economic power. What caused these dramatic changes in the relationship between China and Europe? And what does this say about the future of global geopolitics? The roots of the China-Europe rivalry date back to the rise of European colonialism in the 16th and 17th centuries. At that time, European countries were looking for new sources of wealth and power, and they saw Asia as a potential source of resources. As a result, Europe began invading and colonizing Asia, often using military force to take control of territory. This process led to the creation of immense empires such as the British Empire and the French Empire. China, meanwhile, was largely left alone during this period. This changed in the late 19th century when China started to become a major player on the global stage. First, China became a key player in the development of international trade. As a result, it developed strong ties with various European countries, including Britain, France, and Germany. Second, China played an important role in helping to resolve various international conflicts. For example, during World War I (1914-1918), China helped to broker a peace treaty between Britain and Germany. This cooperation between China and Europe led many Europeans to believe that China was a potential rival to their power and influence. This view was reinforced by events such as the Sino-Japanese

Overview of the Relationship between China and Europe

The relationship between China and Europe is at an abysmally low point. The two regions once saw each other as a counter to U.S. power, but today the relationship is fraught with tension and distrust. This article provides an overview of the history of the troubled relations between China and Europe, as well as a look at some of the reasons for the current lack of cooperation. Relations between China and Europe began to deteriorate in the late 1990s when Beijing began to assert its growing power in the world. In 1998, Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited Europe and announced plans for a "Golden Era" of Sino-European cooperation. However, European leaders were not persuaded, and relations slowly deteriorated. One of the main sources of tension was China's refusal to allow European Union members Taiwan into the trade bloc. In 2004, China blocked a trade deal between the EU and Taiwan, which led to a series of protests in Europe and accusations that Beijing was bullying its smaller neighbor. The dispute escalated in 2006 when EU leaders decided to suspend talks with China on a free-trade agreement due to the Chinese government's continued pressure on Taiwan. In subsequent years, Beijing has clashed with European governments over a variety of issues. For example, in 2009, after several European companies were caught mining minerals in disputed areas of the South China Sea, Beijing retaliated by imposing import tariffs on European goods. The tensions continued into 2011 when Brussels issued an ultimatum to China demanding that it stop building military installations on disputed islands in the East China Sea. Beijing refused to comply and relations deteriorated even further. The current state of relations between China and Europe can be broadly divided into three phases. In the first phase (1998-2004), Beijing attempted to win over European leaders by promising cooperation in areas such as trade and tourism. However, European leaders were not convinced, and relations slowly deteriorated. In the second phase (2005-2011), Beijing continued to try to improve its relationship with Europe, but Brussels was unwilling to reciprocate. The tensions reached a peak in 2011 when Brussels issued an ultimatum to China demanding that it stop building military installations on disputed islands in the East China Sea. Beijing refused to comply and relations deteriorated even further. In the third phase (since 2012), Beijing has tried to improve ties through dialogue and cooperation instead of confrontation. For example, in 2016, China and the European Union signed a series of agreements on energy, climate change, trade, investment, and infrastructure development. However, the two regions still struggle to resolve their differences, and relations remain tense overall. The main reasons for the current lack of cooperation between China and Europe are economic: Europe is China's largest trade partner, but the two regions have several unresolved trade disputes. Additionally, both regions are concerned about Beijing's growing military power and its efforts to gain control over disputed territories. The relationship between China and Europe is at an abysmally low point, and the two regions struggle to resolve their differences. However, there are signs that dialogue and cooperation are becoming more important in the relationship, and there is potential for a revival of bilateral ties in the future.

How China and Europe Became Estranged?

China and Europe were once close allies. However, relations between the two have deteriorated in recent years, largely due to disagreements on trade and security issues. Here are five reasons why China and Europe have fallen out: 1. Economic Differences: While China and Europe share many economic similarities, the two economies are very different. Europe is focused on high-tech industries and exports, while China is more focused on manufacturing. This has led to a lot of tension between the two sides. 2. Security Issues: In addition to economic differences, China and Europe also have different views on security matters. China is focused on its development, while Europe is more concerned with maintaining its influence in global affairs. This has created tensions over issues like the sovereignty of the South China Sea and Tibet. 3. Trade: The biggest issue between China and Europe is trade. China has been trying to expand its market while Europe has been trying to protect its interests. This has led to a lot of conflict over trade agreements like the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). 4. Intellectual Property Rights: Another big issue between China and Europe is intellectual property rights. China is known for its lax copyright laws, which has led to a lot of copyright infringement in Europe. China has also been accused of stealing technology from European companies. 5. Values: Finally, the values that China and Europe uphold are also at odds with each other. China is focused on economic growth and individualism, while Europe is more focused on community and tradition. This has led to tensions over issues like free speech and human rights. Overall, China and Europe have been struggling to maintain their relationship due to a variety of reasons. While there are still some areas of cooperation between the two, tensions are inevitable.

Reasons for the Low Ties

One of the most striking changes in the bilateral relationship between China and Europe has been its deterioration over the past few years. This is due to several factors, including divergent interests, Beijing's growing assertiveness in global affairs, and mistrust on both sides. China and Europe have different world outlooks. For China, the priority is stability and development at home, while for Europe it is upholding democratic values and human rights. The two regions also have different economic development trajectories. While China is still in a developing stage, Europe has already reached a developed country status. In addition, Chinese officials are often seen as arrogant and inflexible by their European counterparts, while Europeans are more likely to see Chinese investment as a threat to their economic security. The contentious issues that have led to the deterioration of ties include Beijing's growing assertiveness in territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas; the granting of political asylum to Chinese dissidents by European countries; Beijing's alleged support for terrorism; Beijing's refusal to join international sanctions against Russia over its aggression in Ukraine; and Beijing's stance on climate change. The Pew Research Center's annual Memorial Report on International Religious Freedom documents how China has become increasingly aggressive in its efforts to control religious activity within its borders. This has led to tension between Beijing and some European countries, which view religious freedom as a fundamental human right. The deterioration of ties is also the result of mistrust on both sides. Europeans are suspicious of China's motives in pursuing economic growth at all costs, while Chinese officials view Europeans as being biased against their country. In addition, the two regions have different perceptions of the role of the state in economic development. Europeans view the state as a necessary tool for promoting social equity and welfare, while Chinese officials see the state as a necessary tool for managing economic development in a way that does not harm social stability. The main factors driving the deterioration of ties are China's increasing assertiveness in global affairs and Europeans' suspicion of Beijing's motives.

Causes of the Current State of the Relationship

The relationship between China and Europe has been deteriorating at an alarming rate in recent years, due to several factors. China saw Europe as a counter to US power when the two regions were competing for influence in the world economy. However, this partnership has since eroded largely due to disagreements over trade, security, and human rights. The current state of the relationship is at an abysmal low, with talks of a potential trade war looming. It is important to look at the root causes of this deterioration to find solutions. One major issue is that Europe no longer sees China as a partner, but rather as a competitor. This attitude was fostered by the European Union's liberalization policies after the Cold War, which led to an influx of Chinese investment and migrants. Beijing responded by promoting its version of globalization, which was seen as more favorable to Chinese interests. European institutions were not up to the challenge of adapting to this new reality, and tensions gradually increased. EU member states also clashed over how to approach China's economic and political developments. Some members—particularly in Central and Eastern Europe—felt that they had been sidelined by more liberal members of the bloc, while others, such as France and Germany, saw China as a key economic partner. These disagreements have made it difficult for the EU to work together on issues of common concern with China. The deterioration of the relationship has also been caused by diplomatic disputes. In 2012, Europe blocked China's bid to be elected to the UN Security Council due to its human rights record. The European Union also imposed sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis, something that Beijing saw as a hostile act. This rivalry has led to a lack of cooperation on important issues and created a divide in opinion within Europe on how best to approach China. Another reason for the deterioration of the relationship is that Chinese policies have not always matched European expectations. For example, while Beijing has promoted economic growth at all costs, Europe is more concerned about social and environmental issues. This gap has created tension between the two sides, particularly over trade matters. China's rise has also put pressure on European economies, making it difficult for member states to compete with China's exports. This has forced them to change their policies to attract Chinese investment and business opportunities, but this process has been slow and difficult due to the political tensions between the two sides. There are several possible solutions to the current state of the relationship between China and Europe. One potential solution is for China and Europe to work together on issues of common concern, such as trade and security. This would help to address some of the underlying reasons for the deterioration in relations. Another solution is for China to change its policies to better match European expectations. This would require Beijing to take a more pragmatic approach to economic and political developments, something that is likely difficult given current government policy priorities. Finally, it is important for Europe to strengthen its relationships with other regions, such as Japan and South Korea, to bolster its position against Chinese influence. All of these measures will be difficult to implement, and the relationship between China and Europe will likely continue to deteriorate in the short term. However, concerted efforts from both sides could help to restore trust and improve the overall relationship.

The European Union's Response to China

The European Union has been struggling to find a response to China's rise for years now. The EU and China have had a complicated relationship ever since the latter's rise to power in the early 1990s. China saw Europe as a counter to US power. The European Union was seen as a pro-democratic, free-market alternative to the United States, which at the time was seen as a dictatorship. However, over the years, relations between China and Europe have deteriorated. China's economic policies, including its industrial and trade practices, have come under fire from many European countries. In addition, Beijing has been accused of trampling on human rights and meddling in other countries affairs. Despite these problems, Brussels remains interested in improving ties with Beijing. Some officials hope that closer cooperation could help resolve some of the issues between the two sides. Others believe that improved ties will only result in more Chinese influence in the EU and worldwide affairs.

What Happened When the EU Entered into a Trade War with China?

The European Union and China have been strong allies for many years. The two countries have developed a strong trade relationship, with China being the largest export market for the EU. But this relationship has come to an abrupt end as of late due to the EU’s decision to enter into a trade war with China. The main issue between the EU and China is trade. The EU believes that China is unfairly subsidizing its economy, which allows Chinese products to be sold at a lower price than their domestic counterparts. In response, the EU has put tariffs on Chinese imports, which has led to a decline in trade between the two countries. As of now, it is uncertain how this trade war will play out. There are fears that it could lead to a more widespread global economic slowdown, and there are also concerns that it could lead to a conflict between the two countries. If this happens, it would be a major setback for both sides and could have serious consequences for their relationship.

The Continuing Economic Collapse of China

With the global economy in a tailspin, China has been hard hit. The country is now seeing its worst economic performance since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Part of the problem is that China's exports are in decline, as are investments and domestic consumption. In addition, China's currency, the renminbi, has devalued significantly against other currencies. All of this has led to an increase in unemployment and poverty rates, which have reached 25% and 40%, respectively. While these problems are by no means unique to China, they have created major challenges for Beijing as it tries to transition from an export-led economy to a more consumer-oriented one. The situation is not hopeless, however. Beijing has made several recent policy changes that should help stabilize the economy and promote growth. For example, Beijing has cut back on investment in some frivolous sectors and increased spending on infrastructure projects that will create jobs. The government also plans to raise taxes on high-income earners and make it easier for companies to merge or be sold. Nonetheless, Beijing faces many challenges in repairing its economy and restoring confidence in its financial system. These efforts will require more than just economic policy changes – they will require a concerted and sustained effort on the part of the Chinese government.

The Origins of European Anti-Americanism in China

The origins of European anti-Americanism in China can be traced back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. At that time, China saw the United States as a counterbalance to a European power. However, over time this relationship has deteriorated, and now ties are at an abysmal low. One of the primary reasons for this deterioration is America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. Americans viewed China as a key ally in Southeast Asia and were very vocal about their support for the country. However, when the war became unpopular in China, the US was left alone to deal with the consequences. This alienation caused a rift between Europe and America which has only grown larger over time. Another factor contributing to the deterioration of ties between Europe and America is America’s economic dominance. European leaders feel that they are losing out on opportunities due to America’s economic might. They also resent America’s political influence, especially its role in the international financial system. As a result of these factors, European anti-Americanism has become entrenched in Chinese society. It is no longer limited to a few fringe groups but has become mainstream opinion. This makes it difficult for America to establish good relations with China, and it will take a lot of work to repair the damage done.

Sino-European Relations in the Post-Cold War Era

The relationship between China and Europe has undergone a dramatic change since the end of the Cold War. At one point, China saw Europe as a counter to US power. Now ties are at an abysmal low. The following are three reasons why this trend has occurred. First, the global economic recession has hurt China's economy and its relations with Europe. European countries are also struggling economically, which makes them less willing to invest in China's economy or cooperate with China on various issues. Second, there is increasing competition for resources and markets between China and Europe. Europe is especially competitive in terms of technology and intellectual property rights. As China becomes more developed, it is looking for new markets and suppliers to expand its economic reach. However, the European market is relatively closed off to Chinese products, which has led to tensions between the two sides. Third, Beijing has been critical of European policies in recent years, especially those directed at Taiwan. This criticism has led to a deterioration in relations between Beijing and many European capitals. Despite these challenges, China and Europe are still able to cooperate on several issues, such as climate change and trade. Overall, the relationship between China and Europe has been declining in recent years, but it is still possible for the two sides to work together on several issues.

The European Union's Influence on China

China once saw Europe as a counter to US power. Now ties are at an abysmal low. The European Union has always been an influential force in China, but this influence has diminished significantly in recent years. The main reason for this decline is the growing political and economic rivalry between China and the United States. The European Union has long been an advocate for human rights, free trade, and democracy. It also opposes China's efforts to dominate its neighbors through economic coercion. However, these values have not always been welcomed by the Chinese government. Tensions between the two countries have escalated in recent years due to a variety of issues, including Chinese militarization of islands in the South China Sea, Beijing's support for authoritarian regimes in Latin America, and allegations of intellectual property theft by Chinese companies. These tensions have caused a decrease in trade between the two economies and an overall souring of relations. The European Union still views China as a key partner in global affairs, but its influence on Beijing has declined significantly in recent years.

Brexit and the Future of EU-China Relations

China once saw Europe as a counter to US power. Now ties are at an abysmal low. In recent years, China's focus has shifted to the United States as its primary economic and military rival. This shift in Beijing's strategic calculus has caused major strains in relations with Europe, which Beijing has long viewed as a bastion of anti-Chinese sentiment and pro-US policy. The Brexit vote in the United Kingdom last year was a major blow to the EU-China relationship. London's decision to leave the bloc intensified existing tensions between Beijing and Brussels over trade and investment, as well as disputes over human rights and security issues in China. While there is still some hope for a renewed relationship between the two blocs, it will likely be difficult given the current political situation in both Europe and China. The Brexit vote has done a lot to damage the EU-China relationship The Brexit vote was a major blow to the EU-China relationship. London's decision to leave the bloc intensified existing tensions between Beijing and Brussels over trade and investment, as well as disputes over human rights and security issues in China. While there is still some hope for a renewed relationship between the two blocs, it will likely be difficult given the current political situation in both Europe and China. The Communist Party of China has been tightening its grip on power, while European politics are plagued by anti-establishment sentiment and growing populist movements. Brexit also highlights several fundamental differences between Europe and China that will make it difficult for Brussels to accommodate Beijing's demands. For example, while Beijing is focused on economic growth and market expansion, Europeans are more focused on protecting their cultural heritage and democratic institutions. This divergence will make it difficult for the EU to respond effectively to demands from China for greater cooperation on trade or security matters. Overall, Brexit is likely to hurt the EU-China relationship

Implications for the Future of China-Europe Ties

As relations between the US and China continue to deteriorate, there are several implications for the future of China-Europe ties. One key implication is that Beijing will become even more reliant on Moscow for political and economic support. Indeed, Moscow has already become an increasingly important partner for Beijing in recent years. For example, Russia has been a major supplier of energy to China and has helped to increase Chinese investment in Russian businesses. Another implication is that Beijing will focus its attention on closer ties with Southeast Asian countries, which are also growing close economic ties with Beijing. Southeast Asia is now the main destination for Chinese investment in the world. This could mean that Beijing sidelines Europe further in its strategic calculations. Overall, it is clear that China-Europe relations are going through a difficult period. However, there are also some indications that the relationship may eventually improve in the future.

Solutions for Restoring the Relationship

China once saw Europe as a counter to US power. Now ties are at an abysmal low. The reasons for this drastic change are complex and multi-layered, but some key factors include China's increasing assertiveness in the world and Europe's reluctance to confront Beijing on issues such as trade and human rights. To restore ties between the two regions, both sides must take a step back and evaluate their policies and practices. Europe should reassess its approach to global trade and China should reconsider its authoritarian model of governance. Both sides need to be more willing to cooperate on issues where they share common interests, such as climate change and security. Ultimately, restoring good relations between China and Europe will require a concerted effort from both sides. However, with the right policies in place, there is hope that the relationship can be restored to its former glory.


In the years after World War II, China saw Europe as a counterweight to America’s global hegemony. Beijing invested in European institutions and trade associations, cultivated favorable relationships with leaders across the continent, and looked to Europe as a model for how China should develop. But those days are long gone. Relations between Beijing and Brussels have dwindled to an all-time low due to disagreements over a variety of issues, including Chinese investment in Europe, data flows, and human rights. And while many analysts see this deterioration in ties as merely symptomatic of broader trends—namely the rise of Russia and the decline of American power—the souring relationship between China and Europe has nevertheless caused significant economic losses for both sides.

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