Introduction: Exploring the Conceptual Gaps in China-EU Relations
Almost nobody disputes that China and Europe do not share many political values, even though they usually use the same value-laden concepts in their political discourse. But the different ways that those concepts have been theorized and employed by China and Europe still remain inadequately explored. As interactions between China and the EU, as well as its member states, have become increasingly intensified since the turn of new century, especially after a China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership was claimed in 2003, numerous research projects and academic conferences have been devoted to this flowering but still difficult relationship. Among other topics, mutual perceptions and/or misperceptions, which are deemed to have a far-reaching impact on China-EU relations,1 turns out to be the most appealing. In our view, however, mutual perceptions per se are insufficient to explain either progress or setbacks in China-EU relations. China and the EU’s perception of each other and their relationship being dynamic and variable, mutual perceptions as such need to be explained by other parameters, one of which could be defined as the difference in their interpretations of the same political concept that may have more profound implications on the China-EU relationship.
KeywordsForeign Policy Global Governance World Value Survey Soft Power Strategic Partnership
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