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In-Depth Research & Reports November 30, 2020

Priorities for a transatlantic China strategy

By Franklin D. Kramer

The transatlantic world is facing one of the biggest challenges in the rise of China it has seen since the Second World War. From espionage to human rights abuses, China threatens to undermine international norms vital for the maintenance of global stability. Historically, similar trials were managed collaboratively between Europe and North America, but divergences in foreign policy ideals over the past few years have so far limited the potential for a joint response to the economic, security, and values-based risk China poses. With geopolitical winds shifting, however, comes a renewed opportunity to revisit the fronts on which an old alliance can handle a new challenge.

In “Priorities For A Transatlantic China Strategy” Franklin D. Kramer lays out six spheres of strategic cooperation between Europe and North America to guide joint foreign policy goals with respect to China. Ranging from an organized response to China’s distortive economic activities to necessary collaboration with it on health and climate issues, Kramer outlines the scope of the challenge at hand and proposes a novel approach to manage it: the creation of a “Transatlantic Coordinating Council.”

Instead of pushing for structured mechanisms of collective action, Kramer posits that the way forward lies in focusing more loosely on compatibility and coordination of key priorities. Any effective solution would necessarily require involvement of the whole transatlantic community, the ability to tackle the full range of issues at hand, while simultaneously respecting the move toward European strategic autonomy. A forum such as Transatlantic Coordinating Council, Kramer argues, lends the needed flexibility to rise to the most significant challenge facing the world.

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Image: Chancellor Angela Merkel at a video conference in the Federal Chancellery on the informal European Council and EU-China meeting. Credit: Bundesregierung/Sandra Steins