Europe, China, and the Limits of Normative Power
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Europe, China, and the Limits of Normative Power

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.
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Chapter 4: Human rights: matters of emphasis

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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