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Evidence from China and Vietnam as Key Emerging Economies

Edited by Hans Bruyninckx, Qi Ye, Nguyen Quang Thuan and David Belis

The Governance of Climate Relations between Europe and Asia offers a thorough empirical study of the most fundamental dynamics involved in EU climate relations with China and Vietnam in the context of global climate governance.
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Chapter 2: The increasingly complex nature of EU–China climate relations

Evidence from China and Vietnam as Key Emerging Economies

Hans Bruyninckx and Qi Ye


When the Second World Climate Conference took place in 1990, the world looked very different from today. The Cold War, which had dominated world politics since the Second World War, was just coming to an end, thus changing several fundamental dynamics of politics on a global scale. We moved from a bipolar world dominated by competition between the US and the Soviet Union and their respective models of societal organization, to a period of systemic transition. Certain overly confident United States (US) scholars, such as Francis Fukuyama, claimed that history had ended and that the US – and its political and economic system or the so-called Washington Consensus – was the new uncontested superpower or hegemon (Fukuyama 1992). Other interpretations emphasized the uncertainty of a world without clear political organization or the possible ascendance of new ‘challengers’ to the US (Gat 2007: 60; Goldstein 1998: 72; Kagan 2008; Lemke 1997: 23). From the early 1990s onwards, China was seen as a possible future global power (Lardy 1994; Lieberthal 1995: 36). China’s economic and political importance has increased significantly since 1990. Its rise as a major economic power and an active player in international relations has been swift and of such magnitude that it has shifted the balance in world politics away from the prevalence of transatlantic relations (Buzan 2004; Goldstein 2005; Ikenberry 2008: 31–33; Shambaugh 2006).

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