1st Edition

The Practical Role of The EU’s Values in Diplomacy with China Complacency, Self-Censorship and Misunderstanding

By Max Roger Taylor Copyright 2024

    Delivering a ground-breaking analysis of the EU’s diplomatic meetings (or dialogues) with China, this book reveals how the EU’s values rarely feature in exchanges, due to ingrained cultures of complacency and self-censorship amongst EU officials.

    Based on extensive interviews, and focusing on individual perceptions and practices, the book also highlights how intercultural misunderstanding and unreflective beliefs contribute to this troubling status quo with serious implications. Furthermore, these dynamics run contrary to the Lisbon Treaty (2009) – where the EU states that its values inform its external relations – threatening the rules-based order that upholds the universal values and international norms the EU shares. At a time of flux in EU-China relations and geopolitical instability, this book’s timely insights will be of great interest and value to scholars and practitioners alike.

    This book will be of key interest to scholars and students of European (Union) foreign policy and diplomacy, EU-China relations, Chinese foreign policy, human rights diplomacy, sustainable development, trade policy and more broadly in European and Asian Studies, and International Relations.

    1. Introduction: China, the Greatest Test for the EU’s Values and Principles

    Part I: Conceptualising and Contextualising the Role of the EU’s Values in EU-China Dialogues

    2. Defining Value Mainstreaming in the EU’s Diplomacy: A Conduit for the EU’s Normative Power with China

    3. EU-China Dialogues and the Role of Values in a Deteriorating Relationship

    Part II: Complacency and Self-Censorship in the EU’s Diplomacy with China

    4. An Institutional Culture of Complacency

    5. An Institutional Culture of Self-Censorship

    6. The EU-China Human Rights Dialogue: Examining the Reality Behind a Cautionary Tale that Fuels Self-Censorship

    7. The Value Vacuum in the Internal Meetings Coordinating EU-China Dialogues: Illustrating the Institutionalised Nature of Complacency and Self-Censorship

    Part III: Reflectivity and Intercultural (Mis)Understanding in EU-China Dialogues

    8. Value Mainstreaming Approaches and Critical Reflectivity

    9. The Intercultural Barrier to Value Mainstreaming

    Part IV: Assessing the Status Quo of EU-China Diplomacy and Charting a More Principled Future

    10. Partial Mainstreaming and Ad-Hoc Coordination: How the EU’s Values Can Enter EU-China Dialogues Without Systematic Action and Why this Falls Short

    11. Conclusions: Reinforcing the Paradigm Shift and Strengthening the EU’s Normative Power with China at a Crucial Juncture

    Appendix I: Interview List


    Max Roger Taylor is a trained political scientist with a focus on EU-China diplomacy, based in the United Kingdom. He has taught at the University of Bath and the University of Dundee, published in leading academic journals and his experience has included participation in EU-China dialogues.

    'Taylor's well-written book is a must-read. It illuminates what is usually a black box phenomenon. A review of the policy narratives of European diplomats and officials reveals that European civil servants in charge of China engagement have at times acted against the Lisbon Treaty's goals.'

    Andreas Fulda, Associate Professor at the University of Nottingham’s School of Politics and International Relations, UK


    'Can the European Union successfully externalise its values in a world increasingly defined by power politics and inter-cultural divergence? In this landmark volume, Max Roger Taylor shows first-hand how diplomats seek to articulate the EU’s normative power in their relations with China, and the challenges they face in doing so. By studying dynamics behind closed doors, Taylor paints a vivid picture of normative power in practice. A must-read for followers of EU foreign policy.'

    Benjamin Martill, Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the University of Edinburgh, UK and Associate at LSE IDEAS