“Results, Regrets, and Reinvention: Premier Wen’s last China-EU Summit“
ESPO Policy Brief 6
As a part of his valedictory activities in his last year in office, Wen Jiabao conducted two summits with the EU, in February and then in September. As befits the departure of a person like Wen from the world of diplomacy, Chen Zhimin of Fudan University begins with a hopeful note suggesting that relationships are still moving forward.
Nonetheless, Chen does not shy from the dark spots on the body of the China-EU relationship. China remains frustrated that it cannot buy European armaments, that it cannot trade with Europe with the status of a market economy. But these are minor compared to Chinese frustration that despite Chinese help with Europe’s economic crisis, European governments continue to curb Chinese imports. Chen ends his paper with a veiled threat – China’s new leaders may not be so nice about all of this.
I read through the paper hoping that Professor Chen was one of that small cohort of China-based Chinese academics who had discovered a way to speak truth to power. Sadly, there is no such independent voice here. The paper was interesting in that it was an essential restatement of the official line, but Chen goes no further. Sadly, the author fingers himself as a cat’s paw of the central government. We may not expect particular insights from Professor Chen, but we will get a reliable rewrite of the official line.