In its dealings with Beijing, the United States has turned to classic grand strategy with the aim of safeguarding its primacy. In contrast, the EU has been pursuing a less consistent, but much more suitable multi-track approach. China’s latest actions may push the Europeans to full alignments with the US—which would be both momentous and dangerous.
In the spring of 2021, the triangle of EU-US-China relations has taken on a kaleidoscopic dynamic.
Think back to the way the world looked as recently as December 2020. China was emerging strengthened from the virus shock. The United States was embroiled in unprecedented post-election chaos. The Trump administration had let the epidemic run out of control. The European Union, by contrast, was concerting itself around the NextGenerationEU (NGEU) recovery package. As her last hurrah as the de facto leader of Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, backed by her allies in the European Commission, pushed through the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment.
The configuration seemed clear. America was adrift. The EU and China were forging an axis of pragmatic cooperation on trade, investment, and climate policy. Now, only a few months later, the kaleidoscope has shifted abruptly.
Read the full article at Internationale Politik Quarterly.