Was There any Coherent European China Policy in the Case of the EU Arms Embargo on China?

  • Vivien ExartierEmail author
Part of the Global Power Shift book series (GLOBAL)


This study looks into the case of handling of the lift of the EU arms embargo on China, imposed on the wake of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre. The case illustrates how the EU is unable to formulate a common and coherent position in its China policy and how much influence the Big Three have when it comes to China and defense issues. I argue that Britain, France and Germany affect the EU sanction policy on China due to their historic and strategic ties to the PRC and their predominance in the armament industry. The methodology is a questionnaire addressed to foreign policy officials from the three member states’ governments and EU institutions during that period (2003–2005) combined with the application of three models about responses to Europeanization by Cowles et al. (Transforming Europe: Europeanization and Domestic Change. Cornell University Press, 2001), Börzel (J Common Market Stud, 40: 193–214, 2002) and Falkner et al. (Complying with Europe: EU Harmonization and Soft law in the Member States. Cambridge University Press, 2005). Findings show that France and Germany set the agenda, formulated policies and influenced other member states to follow their policy choices through a bottom-up and horizontal process of Europeanization and that Britain was also influential in the debate but more in a swing state capacity. The findings also show that domestic factors (opposition parties, media, and public opinion) and external factors (importance of the transatlantic relationship, influence of the US in Asia and China’s attitude towards Taiwan) had a key impact on the outcome of the initiative and empowered the will of the major member states.


Member State Foreign Policy European Council Strategic Partnership Opposition Parti 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Business and Financial SciencesRoyal University for WomenRiffaKingdom of Bahrain

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