Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Constantin Holzer
In­ter­na­tional work­shop on “The People's Re­pub­lic of Chin­a’s Seven Dec­ades of For­eign Eco­nomic Re­la­tions”
A comparative inquiry into China’s BRI and the EU Connectivity Strategy for Asia
University of Helsinki, Finland
Peer Reviewed Abstract
Optional Fields
The PRC and the EU are two of the world’s largest economic superpowers, with their mutual relationship and the balance of power having a profound impact on regional and global trade and economic prosperity. Both trading blocs posit themselves as proponents of a multilateral global order, international trade and environmental sustainability. In recent years, however, China has become increasingly assertive in the global arena, with initiatives such as OBOR, CM2025, and the founding of the AIIB promising a new age of Chinese global economic dominance. In order to guide investments, both China and the EU have recently pronounced their own flagship visions for sustainable development on the transeurasian continent – China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Europe’s Connectivity Strategy for Asia. While both visions focus on infrastructure, transport, energy and digitalization as pillars for sustaining trade and prosperity throughout the 21st century, the EU's Connectivity Strategy is emphasizing sustainable, comprehensive and rules-based development. China's BRI on the other hand stresses win-win cooperation in the context of the Chinese state-led investment model going global. Scope and limits of both China’s and the EU’s economic ambition and priorities can be understood from the strategic narratives that are underpinning their respective geopolitical vision and self-image – that is ‘strategic modernizer’ in the case of China and ‘rules-based transformer’ in the case of the EU. This paper is going to examine communalities and differences between the BRI and the EU’s Connectivity plan and will assess to what extent political-institutional cooperation is feasible between them. The EUs connectivity strategy is undoubtedly an important answer to China's BRI that allows the EU to engage transeurasian connectivity and to shape it in its own image. Different geopolitical positions, synergies and tensions between the EU's Connectivity Strategy and China's BRI have to be made explicit in order to facilitate a form of dialogue and engagement that contributes to a shared vision of sustainable connectivity.