China-EU Relations and the Future of European Soft Power: A Strategy for a European Cultural Diploma

The ongoing impact of the financial crisis upon the global economy and the concomitant shift
towards more regionally-oriented patterns of trade have greatly increased the cogency of the
case for more effective policy cooperation at a European level. But that case had already been
well-established by the rise of the new emerging powers over the past two decades, above
all, by that of China. Its rapid and dramatic entry onto the world stage is indeed the greatest
geostrategic development of our times, historically comparable only to the rise of the United
States between 1865 and 1914. The most populous country in the world, with an average GDP
growth rate of 9 percent since the mid 1980s, despite its recent deceleration to a still impressive
7.4 percent in 2014, it has become the third largest economy in the world in nominal GDP, after
the European Union (EU) and the United States (US). Some commentators even argue that the
country has already overtaken the US on a purchasing parity basis last year, although its GDP per
capita will clearly remain at much lower levels for a far longer period. It has thus been naturally
at the forefront of international attention and the object of intense analysis. Comprehending the
means by which China has achieved this new eminence, and even more its capacity to maintain
and extend this across Asia and beyond, through all the potential pitfalls of securing stability
whilst shifting from export-led growth to developing a continental-scale consumer society, is
central to any analysis of contemporary global trends.

This policy paper was produced for LSE Ideas at the London School of Economics.

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