China's inroads into the West

Beijing is rolling out an ambitious plan to create trade routes that stretch to the heart of Europe. This will bring much-needed investment to the countries in its path, but threatens to change the balance of power between rising Asia and the Old Continent

The World Today Published 25 September 2015 Updated 11 December 2020 5 minute READ

Dr Nicola Casarini

Senior Fellow for Asia, Istituto Affari Internazionali in Rome and non-resident Global Fellow at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC

This year, China and the European Union celebrate the 40th anniversary of their diplomatic relations. Once marginal, their partnership has become one of the world’s most important. Trade between Beijing and Brussels now exceeds €1.2 billion a day. Their level of interdependence is such that China’s market meltdown this summer was felt in Europe immediately.

The two sides are currently discussing ways to link China’s ‘one belt, one road’ (OBOR) initiative with the European Commission president Jean-Paul Juncker’s plan for jobs and growth to boost two-way investment and commerce.

Closer Sino-European relations, however, risk weakening the transatlantic bond which was strained in March by the decision of Britain to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as a founding member despite United States pressure to stay out. Germany, France and Italy were quick to follow the British lead.

Subscribe to read all issues

Articles from the current issue are free to read by all, the archive is exclusive to magazine subscribers and our members. Subscribe or become a member to view articles from the archive.