European Union and China

Abstract: Utilising constructivism this work analyses the contemporary relational complexities of East Asia vis-à-vis the European Union (EU). Mindful of the social constructivist themes of identity and interests, it is argued that there are fundamental difficulties found in these interregional relations, which must be urgently addressed. The EU continues to be under-valued and misunderstood in the eyes of the East Asian public; despite the relatively strong economic and political engagement of the Union. With the emergence of China as a global actor, Europe must reinforce its political capital amidst the failures of the EU to reconcile its policy inconsistencies juxtaposed with its self-perception as a ‘normative power.’ This becomes more evident in EU’s recent engagements with ASEAN as the former has been seen as undetermined in promoting human rights and democratic norms in the region. Nonetheless, EU-ASEAN relations may still be construed as a promising case for the EU to export its model of multi-level governance, and enhance its ‘actorness’ and institutional legitimacy. Finally, in order for interregional relations to be reinvigorated, the two regions must identify and pursue their mutually-shared interests such as economic development, democratic proliferation, and human rights provisions.


Keywords: ASEAN, EU, constructivism, interregionalism, East Asia, China