Conceptual Differences of Strategic Partnership in EU-China Relations

  • May-Britt U. Stumbaum
  • Wei Xiong


On the establishment of the EU-China strategic partnership, the then high representative of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, stated that “the EU wants to work alongside China in addressing key problems, since the two sides are both strong, and are both looking to make constructive contributions to the stability of our regions and of the international community.”1 Today, China has become one of the main foci for the EU’s strategic partnership concept in the EU’s effort to promote effective multilateralism with an ever stronger and ever more important China. However, growing frictions in the Sino-European relationship have shown not only that the “relationship is getting serious and the honeymoon is over” but also that there is a lack of understanding and knowledge about the other entity and its respective comprehension of the concept of a strategic partnership. In fact, there seems to be a conceptual gap between China and the EU. Most literature on EU-hina relations and the strategic partnership in particular has so far focused on the policy-relevant side of the relationship, such as mutual expectations and global challenges to tackle together. However, there is a lack of debate on the circumstances that have influenced the formulation of the strategic partnership and those expectations in the first place — hence, on the circumstances that lead to a conceptual gap between China and the EU.


Security Policy European Council Conceptual Difference Strategic Partnership Strategic Partner 
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© May-Britt U. Stumbaum and Wei Xiong 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • May-Britt U. Stumbaum
  • Wei Xiong

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