European Foreign Affairs Review

Volume 23 (2018)

Volume 23 (2018) / Issue 3

Han Dorussen, Emil J. Kirchner, Thomas Christiansen, 'Security Cooperation in EU–China Relations: Towards Convergence?' (2018) 23 European Foreign Affairs Review, Issue 3, pp. 287–304


Over the past decade, the EU and China have expanded their relations beyond a focus on economic and trade issues into the sphere of security. This is particularly evident when security is seen to encompass a variety of policy domains – from traditional, military security to nontraditional human security. However, this development has not followed an even or linear path: the record of EU–China security cooperation has been varied across different policy domains, with distinct temporal trajectories. This article addresses the question of why security cooperation between the two sides has advanced in certain policy domains while having faltered in others. Based on an expert survey of European and Chinese scholars, we explore both interest-driven and experience-driven explanations. Our analysis identifies a number of key events in the development of EU–China relations that have been critical in terms of initiating and enhancing cooperation in specific domains. Overall, we find that past experience with actual cooperation, rather than declared intentions, best explains the pattern of cooperation over time.

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ISSN: 1384-6299
ID: EERR2018027