1st Edition

The Diplomatic Making of EU-China Relations Structure, Substance and Style

By Lucie Qian Xia Copyright 2024
    240 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book provides a novel theoretical framework to understand EU-China diplomatic relations.

    The existing scholarly literature on EU-China relations is characterised by a dichotomous distinction between material and ideational factors and overemphasises the ‘interest versus value’ motif undergirding EU-China relations. The diplomacy and future direction of the relationship seem as opaque as their extent remains incalculably complex. This book takes us beyond binary motives by introducing a novel theoretical model of diplomatic relationship-building that brings to the fore the more nuanced and latent factors to make sense of EU-China diplomatic relationship-building; the new theory captures the ‘relational’ nature of diplomatic relationship-building by integrating the social layer of ‘intentions’ in understanding international diplomacy. This study further sheds light on the opportunities and challenges in enhancing EU-China relations, through a comparative in-depth investigation of the processes, practices and politics of EU-China climate change and agricultural-trade relations over the past two decades. The book draws on a rich collection of original data, encompassing over 100 interviews with stakeholders of EU-China relations conducted from 2015–2023; strengthened by participant observation at EU and Chinese institutional headquarters and in diplomatic fora that has taken place over the past ten years. Enriching these data are newly disclosed official minutes and documentation regarding EU-China negotiations and cooperation.

    This book will be of much interest to students of diplomacy studies, Chinese politics, EU politics and international relations in general.

    1. Introduction

    2. Understanding EU-China Relations  

    3. Theorising Diplomatic Relationship-Building

    4. Making EU-China Agricultural-Trade Relations

    5. Making EU-China Climate Change Relations

    6. Conclusion


    Lucie Qian Xia is a Lecturer in the Politics and International Relations of China at the University of Oxford. She holds a doctorate in diplomatic studies from the University of Oxford and previously served at the Delegation of the European Union to China in Beijing and the UN Representation Office to the EU in Brussels.

    'How do the EU and China build their diplomatic relationship? What are the factors that shape their patterns of cooperation and conflict? This book addresses these questions by advancing a groundbreaking theoretical model of diplomatic relationship-building that incorporates the role of intentions in EU-China diplomacy. The book shows how the social layer of ‘'intentions'’ endows the EU and China with a '‘we-feeling'’ that invokes a shared vision and enables the minimization of frictions between the two parties. Based on extensive empirical research, the book reveals the complex and dynamic nature of EU-China relations and the importance of understanding the intentions of both actors. The book is a must-read for anyone interested in EU-China diplomacy and its future prospects.'

    Corneliu Bjola, University of Oxford, UK

    ‘Relations between the EU and China are a crucial but under-examined topic. Lucie Qian Xia's meticulous and rigorous study shows how, in practice, competition and collaboration can both take place. It is an important read both for scholars and policymakers.’ 

    Rana Mitter, Harvard University, USA

    'In the evolving dynamics of global affairs, the EU-China relationship will become even more significant than it is today. Lucie Qian Xia's in-depth study on EU-China relations cuts to the core of diplomatic intricacies. Through a thorough examination of the theoretical foundations and practical insights into the key areas of the relationship, Lucie Qian Xia delivers an indispensable guide. This compelling work demands the attention of stakeholders on both sides, providing a clear and comprehensive roadmap for navigating the complex landscape of EU-China diplomatic ties.'

    Pascal Lamy, former Director-General of the World Trade Organization, 2005-2013