Oxford Debate: Will the U.S. and the EU Turn Into “Frenemies” Over China?
The Motion: Europe will choose the U.S. over China
In this Oxford Debate we are debating: Europe will choose the U.S. over China. Joining us for the debate are Ivana Karásková, Andrew Small, Alicja Bachulska, and Plamen Tonchev – experts from European think tanks, specializing on the E.U. and its relations to Asia and China in particular.
Our Key takeaways
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China has not offered Europe anything in the last years, said Ivana Karásková. Instead, it became a normative competitor that is increasingly challenging international norms – and regularly issues threats against EU member states.
The premise of a clear choice is a false one, countered Alicja Bachulska: It presumes that smaller states have no agency. Europe has to create its own China policy instead of just following the U.S.
It is a real choice, argued Andrew Small: The transatlantic bond is still strong – both in political values and economic integration. To have an influence on China, neither the U.S. nor Europe can act alone; they need to form a coalition.
The transatlantic bond is falling apart, countered Plamen Tonchev. Europe's view on China is more nuanced than the U.S. view: It should not be wrapped up in the conflict of superpowers, but aim to become the third pole.
Europe will choose the U.S. over China.
For the motion
Ivana Karásková is a founder and project leader of MapInfluenCE and China Observers in Central and Eastern Europe (CHOICE), international projects mapping China’s presence in Central and Eastern Europe, and a China Research Fellow at the Association for International Affairs (AMO), a Prague-based foreign policy think tank. She holds a Ph.D. in International Relations and other university degrees in Journalism and Mass Communication, European Studies and International Relations. Besides her think tank activities and advocacy, she also lectures on EU-China relations, China’s geopolitics and security in Northeast Asia at Charles University, Czech Republic. Ivana is an alumna of the US State Department’s International Visitors Program on Investment Screening Mechanism and a member of China expert pool at the European Center of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (Hybrid CoE) in Helsinki.
Andrew Small is a senior transatlantic fellow with the Asia program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States and a non-resident senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. His research focuses on U.S.-China relations, EU-China relations, and broader developments in Chinese foreign and economic policy. He previously worked as the director of the Foreign Policy Centre's Beijing office; as a visiting fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; and was an ESU scholar in the office of Senator Edward M. Kennedy. He has testified before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission and both the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Development Committee of the European Parliament. He is the author of The China-Pakistan Axis: Asia's New Geopolitics.
Against the motion
Alicja Bachulska is a China analyst at the Asia Research Centre of War Studies University in Warsaw, a think-tank affiliated with the Polish Ministry of Defense, where she focuses on Chinese foreign policy and its implications for Poland. She is an active member of MapInfluenCE (an international project mapping Chinese presence in Central and Eastern Europe) and CHOICE (a network of China observers from the CEE region). She is also a Ph.D. candidate at the Polish Academy of Sciences’ Graduate School for Social Research (GSSR). She holds a M.A. in International Politics (Chinese Politics and Diplomacy) from Fudan University, and B.A. in Chinese and Development Studies from School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. She also spent a year studying Mandarin Chinese at Beijing Normal University.
Plamen Tonchev is Head of the Asia Unit at the Institute of International Economic Relations (IIER), Greece, and a founding member of the European Think-tank Network on China (ETNC). In addition, he is a member of the EU Chapter of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (EU CSCAP) committee, and also sits on the Scientific Committee of the Asia-Europe Sustainable Connectivity conference (AESCON). Plamen has specialized in Chinese studies since the late 1990s and has a long list of related publications. The area of his interests covers both China’s politics/economy and standing on the international scene, the Belt and Road Initiative, EU-China relations, etc.
About Oxford Debates
The Oxford Debates at Asia Society Switzerland are a format to address ‘big’ questions that have no one answer or solution but are inviting many conflicting views. Four renowned experts in the field form teams of two, one team arguing for the motion, the other against it.
The Oxford-style format is broken down into four sections: opening remarks, rebuttals, a moderated question-and-answer session, and closing remarks. Before and after the debate the audience is polled whether they agree with the motion or not. The voting breakdown is not shared publicly until the end of the debate. The greater percentage change between the first and second votes determines the debate’s winning team.
Disclaimer: Positions presented in the debate do not necessarily represent the speakers’ views