Shifting Paradigms in US, China and Taiwan Relations
Edited by Peter C.Y. Chow
Chapter 14: The Lifting of the EU Arms Embargo on China: An American Perspective
* Peter Brookes The European Union (EU) is considering lifting the Tiananmen Square arms embargo against the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The United States and the EU imposed the embargo following the June 1989 crackdown on democracy protestors in Beijing. The merits of the lifting of the embargo are being widely and vociferously debated in the United States, Europe and Asia. In broad context of the renewed interest in the power politics in a unipolar world, and, more speciﬁcally, to entertain the current debates over whether there exists the so-called ‘soft balancing’ against the sole superpower, this chapter takes a special interest in whether the contestations over the EU arms embargo against China constitute balancing against the United States. THEORETIC BACKGROUNDER Several themes derived from balance-of-power theory are apt to examine the contestations over the EU arms embargo in the context of a rising China vis-à-vis the United States. What comes to mind ﬁrst is power-in-transition theory, which predicates likely conﬂicts in the forms of balancing and counterbalancing.1 From the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta to the Cold War rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union, history is pocked with examples of direct – and indirect – conﬂict between rising and status quo powers such as China and the United States.2 Within the balancing and counterbalancing scope, soft balancing is an emerging, though unsettled, variation of balance of power theory growing out of the recurrent eﬀort to decipher the puzzling absence of a de...