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Zsuzsa A. Ferenczy

This chapter sets the scene for the assessment of Europe’s normative power effectiveness and its limitations in shaping China’s development along international norms. It presents the structure, methodology, theory and outline of the book and introduces the core concepts and context. Europe and China are central to addressing key international challenges. As a normative power, Europe has committed to socializing China with international norms. China, as an emerging actor seeking international recognition has expanded its own international ambitions, navigating between the embrace and dismissal of international norms. In this process, their influence has been mutual. Since the 2008 financial turmoil, followed by a political crisis, Europe’s standing and influence regarding China have however suffered. With its fragmented governance and divided Europe and a confident China, the book investigates the dynamics of European foreign policy. It assesses Europe’s international capacity, the extent to which it can actually shape China’s development.

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Zsuzsa A. Ferenczy

This chapter describes the dynamics in European foreign policy, in particular in the new institutional framework introduced by the Lisbon Treaty in 2009. It focuses on how the interaction of principal actors, diverse political discourses and policy instruments interact and shape the formulation of EU policy. It also explores the effects of Europe’s diverse and ongoing social, political, economic, and cultural crises on the process. In the midst of fundamental shifts in the global distribution of power, European integration has been fundamentally shaken. As a result, developing a unified European foreign policy regarding China remains an arduous task, entailing a complex multi-layered process confronted by internal and external forces of disruption and disorientation. While discourse regarding China has remained consistent with core commitments, in practice relations between discourse and reality are widening. As a result of a mixed record, Europe’s claims to attract China by its power of example are questioned.

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Zsuzsa A. Ferenczy

European normative power has been at the core of debates on its international ‘actorness’, alongside competing concepts such as civilian power and military power. This chapter examines perceptions on Europe's capacity to act as an international actor in its relations with China. It also provides an overview on China’s global role and influence since the 1978 reform and opening up, and assesses views on their relations. Views on Europe’s influence are unenthusiastic. Agreement persists that transformations in the global distribution of power have negatively impacted Europe's global standing, damaging its power of example to the benefit of China’s international influence. Following financial and political troubles, the Union is seen to be in relative decline, and China’s influence on its territory is seen to be growing. In a multi-layered system burdened by national rivalries, Europe’s fragmentation is perceived to have constrained its influence over China, even more so following the crises.

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Zsuzsa A. Ferenczy

Since the first EU China Communication in 1995, commitment to safeguard human rights has been an objective at the heart of the EU’s China policy, together with democracy and rule of law. A principled European narrative has gradually taken shape, the result of common efforts of all the actors involved in a fragmented governance structure. Yet, the gap between generous rhetoric and Europe’s failure to implement a common approach in practice has damaged Europe’s power of example, a key factor in shaping its effectiveness. Most importantly, the fundamental normative divergence overshadowing EU-China relations has hindered dialogue at the expense of trust and mutual understanding. Human rights remain a constant irritation. Europe’s crises have brought further pressure on its efforts to socialize its partner in this sensitive and difficult policy area. As a result, European normative power effectiveness in human rights in China has remained limited.

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Zsuzsa A. Ferenczy

Civil society enjoys a privileged role in Europe’s China policies. Europe has aimed at promoting China’s economic opening with civil society at the centre, stressing the advancement of both political and economic rights. Europe has developed solid instruments to ensure an inclusive approach towards civil society. This has guaranteed its power of example. Beijing has been ambiguous in its approach to civil society. It has shown relatively more openness to cooperation on economic, and much less on political rights. This has constrained Europe’s influence. Europe’s weakened power of example as a result of it dealing with its crises has further challenged its ambitions, most notably as a result of the migration crisis, questioning Europe’s claims of inclusiveness and partnership with civil society. Criticism about its ability to find solutions in partnership with civil society has increased. As a result, Europe’s normative power effectiveness has been limited.

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Zsuzsa A. Ferenczy

Externally Europe links rule of law with democracy and human rights, as a set of mutually reinforcing principles. Europe’s China policies pursue rule of law as a horizontal issue, not proposing one model, but indicating a direction inspired by the intersection of the different models of member states. As a result, there has been a positive division of labour in Europe’s otherwise inherently fragmented structure, ensuring Europe’s power of example. But rule of law does not mean the same thing in China as in Europe. While official discourse in China has advocated governing the country according to law, slogans supporting efforts to build ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’ have come to be seen to undermine the very concept. This normative divergence has limited Europe’s influence. Furthermore, Europe’s dealing with the financial crisis has weakened its power of example, constraining its influence in the debate between constitutionalism and socialism with Chinese characteristics.

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Zsuzsa A. Ferenczy

Beijing has acknowledged Europe’s global leadership in setting and diffusing environmental standards globally. Faced with environmental degradation jeopardizing its economic development and therefore endangering the leadership’s domestic legitimacy, Beijing has shown interest in learning from European expertise. It has even modeled some of its policies after it. The two partners have made environmental cooperation a strategic priority. While this alignment of interests has enabled some cooperation, it has not brought an alignment of norms. The fundamental normative divergence at the core of EU-China relations has remained. It is clear, the two maintain their differences in their development path. While leading through its power of example, Europe’s inherent fragmentation has influenced its much-praised image. Overall, in spite of dealing with a series of crises, Europe has been effective in socializing China with international norms, a result of both Europe’s power of ideas and China’s power of interest.

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Zsuzsa A. Ferenczy

Rule of law, democracy and human rights are at the heart of Europe’s development policy regarding Africa. Development is therefore an ideal policy area for a comprehensive assessment of Europe’s normative power effectiveness. The core of China’s development policy in Africa is fundamentally different, stressing equality, win-win cooperation and sovereignty. As a result, practical cooperation with Europe remains a distant goal only. Europe’s democratization objectives keep it at a distance from China’s business-like approach to economic development. They both defend their models as the right one to benefit the people of Africa. The identification of common interests has helped finding common ground for cooperation in peace and security. This however has not ensured normative convergence. Europe’s effectiveness therefore remains limited. At the same time, Europe must make sure it continues leading in development cooperation in order to protect its power of example from the negative effects of the crises.

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Zsuzsa A. Ferenczy

The book set out to assess the EU’s capacity to shape China’s development along international norms. This chapter concludes that in the midst of dramatic changes in the distribution of global power, Europe’s ability to influence China’s development has been limited. In spite of institutional innovations brought by the Lisbon Treaty, dealing with China’s growing clout on a European level remains a challenge. Anxious and divided, Europe has been constrained by its multi-layered system of governance, the normative divergence and the series of crises it is undergoing. These factors have damaged its power of example, hindering cooperation. Yet, while Beijing has dismissed working together in human rights, in the environment Europe’s power of example and Beijing’s power of interest have supported cooperation, enabling Europe to slowly, albeit selectively, socialize China with international norms. The fundamental normative divergence has hindered cooperation in civil society, rule of law, and development in Africa.

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Zsuzsa A. Ferenczy

Europe, China, and the Limits of Normative Power is a groundbreaking book, offering insights into European influence regarding China’s development, during a period when Europe confronts its most serious political, social, and economic crises of the post-war period. Considering Europe’s identity and its future international relevance, this book examines the extent to which Europe’s multi-layered governance structure, the normative divergence overshadowing EU–China relations and Europe’s crises continue to shape – and often limit – Europe’s capacity to inspire China’s development.