Diversity, Pragmatism and Convergence: China, the European Union and the Issue of Sovereignty

  • Joern-Carsten Gottwald
  • Niall Duggan


China and the European Union are stressing the depth and width of their maturing and comprehensive strategic partnership — at least in official statements.1 A recent power audit, however, came up with a much more sobering assessment of the current state of affairs. Highly critical of the European approach of “unconditional engagement”, the authors highlighted the strong role of national governments and their inability to produce a coherent policy towards the rising power in the Far East.2 Adding to the woes of the EU is the impact of the global financial and economic turmoil of 2008 that triggered a European sovereign debt crisis. As the EU struggled to handle the social, political and economic fallout, severe tensions within the highly integrated economic area emerged. National governments faced strong domestic expectations to show leadership. When the EU and the IMF had to step in to prevent a default of the Republic of Ireland, an outraged public decried the loss of national sovereignty, comparing Ireland and Greece with a “quasi-protectorate of the ECB, the IMF and the European Commission”,3 causing the Irish “founding fathers to turn in their graves”.4 The gap between European integration based on the deliberate transfer of sovereignty from national governments to a supranational body and public perception in the member states seemed to widen.


Global Governance European Parliament National Sovereignty State Sovereignty Chinese Foreign Policy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 2.
    John Fox and François Godement, A Power Audit of EU-China Relations, London: European Council on Foreign Relations, 2009.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    Dana Radler, “National Sovereignty — A Burden on the Shoulders of European Members?” The Sphere of Politics, vol. 112, 2004, pp. 28–32.Google Scholar
  3. 11.
    Alan James, “The Practice of Sovereign Statehood in Contemporary International Society”, Political Studies, vol. 47, no. 3, 1999, pp. 460–2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 12.
    See Georg Sörensen, The Transformation of the State: Beyond the Myth of Retreat, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.Google Scholar
  5. 13.
    Linda Weiss, The Myth of the Powerless State, New York: Cornell University Press, 1998.Google Scholar
  6. 14.
    Janice Thompson, “State Sovereignty in International Relations: Bridging the Gap between Theory and Empirical Research”, International Studies Quarterly, vol. 99, no. 2, 1995, pp. 213–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 15.
    John Agnew, “Sovereignty Regimes: Territoriality and State Authority in Contemporary World Politics”, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, vol. 95, no. 2, June 2005, pp. 437–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 16.
    Roland Axtmann, “The State of the State: The Model of the Modern State and Its Contemporary Transformation”, International Political Science Review, vol. 25, no. 3, 2004, pp. 259–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 18.
    Robert H. Jackson, Quasi-States: Sovereignty, International Relations and the Third World, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990, pp. 27–9.Google Scholar
  10. 20.
    See, Kofi Annan, “Two Concepts of Sovereignty,” The Economist, vol. 352, 18 September 1999, pp. 49–50.Google Scholar
  11. 21.
    Stephen Krasner, Sovereignty: Organised Hypocrisy, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 22.
    Joseph Joffe, “Rethinking the Nation State: The Many Meanings of Sovereignty”, Foreign Affairs, vol. 78, no. 6, November/December 1999, pp. 122–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 23.
    Francis G. Jacobs, “The State of International Economic Law: Re-Thinking Sovereignty in Europe”, Journal of International Economic Law, vol. 11, no. 1, 2008, pp. 5–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 24.
    See Robert Keohane, “Ironies of Sovereignty: The European Union and the United States”, Journal of Common Market Studies, vol. 40, no. 4, 2002, pp. 743–65;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Aleksandra Lewicki, Souveränität im Wandel: Zur Aktualität eines normativen Begriffs, Berlin: LIT Verlag, 2006.Google Scholar
  16. 26.
    See Frank Schorkopf, “The European Union as an Association of Sovereign States: Karlsruhe’s Ruling on the Treaty of Lisbon”, German Law Volume, vol. 10, no. 8, 2009, pp. 1219–40.Google Scholar
  17. 28.
    European Commission, The EU in the World: The Foreign Policy of the European Union, Brussels, 2007.Google Scholar
  18. 31.
    See Ivo Duchacek, “Perforated Sovereignties: Towards a Typology of New Actors in International Relations”, in Hans Michelman and Panayotis Soldatos, eds, Federalism and International Relations: The Role of Subnational Units, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990, pp. 1–33.Google Scholar
  19. 32.
    Zhu Liqun, China’s Foreign Policy Debates (Chaillot Paper, no. 121, Paris: EU Institute for Security Studies, September 2010), p. 45.Google Scholar
  20. 35.
    See Lai-ha Chan, Pak K. Lee, and Gerald Chan, “Rethinking Global Governance: A China Model in the Making?” Contemporary Politics, vol. 14, no. 1, March 2008, pp. 3–19; Yu Keping, “From the Discourse of ‘Sino-West’ to ‘Globalisation’: Chinese Perspectives on Globalisation”, (working paper, Institute on Globalisation and the Human Condition, McMaster University, Canada, March 2004);CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hongying Wang and James N. Rosenau, “China and Global Governance”, Asian Perspective, vol. 33, no. 3, 2009, pp. 5–39.Google Scholar
  22. 38.
    See Ranesh Thakur, The United Nations, Peace and Security: From Collective Security to Responsibility to Protect, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 44.
    Allen Carlson, “Helping to Keep the Peace (albeit reluctantly): China’s Recent Stance on Sovereignty and Multilateral Intervention”, Pacific Affairs, vol. 77, no. 1, 2004, pp. 9–27;Google Scholar
  24. Allen Carlson, Unifying China, Integrating with the World: Securing Chinese Sovereignty in the Reform Era, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005.Google Scholar
  25. 45.
    See Ian Taylor, China and Africa: Engagement and Compromise, London: Routledge, 2006;Google Scholar
  26. Li Anshan, “African Studies in China in the Twentieth Century: A Historiographical Survey”, African Studies Review, vol. 48, no. 1, April 2005, pp. 59–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 46.
    Denis M. Tull, “China’s Engagement in Africa: Scope, Significance and Consequences”, Journal of Modern African Studies, vol. 44, no. 3, September 2006, pp. 459–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 48.
    Jonathan Holslag, “China’s New Mercantilism in Central Africa”, African and Asian Studies, vol. 5, no. 2, 2006, pp. 133–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 49.
    See Joern-Carsten Gottwald and Niall Duggan, “Hesitant Adaptation: China’s New Role in Global Policies”, in Sebastian Harnisch, Cornelia Frank, and Hanns W. Maull, eds, Role Theory in International Relations, London: Routledge, 2011, pp. 234–51.Google Scholar
  30. 50.
    Uwe Wissenbach, “The EU’s Response to China’s Africa Safari: Can Triangular Co-operation Match Needs?” European Journal of Development Research (special issue), vol. 21, no. 4, 2009, pp. 662–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Joern-Carsten Gottwald and Niall Duggan 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joern-Carsten Gottwald
  • Niall Duggan

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations