German, British and French foreign and security policy towards China
: a case of Europeanisation?

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


In the 21st century, the European Union (EU) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) play a growing role as international actors as well as security providers. Apart from trade, the European approach towards China remains underdeveloped and defence cooperation is ruled out by the EU’s arms embargo vis-à-vis China (1989). Nevertheless, bilateral relations have expanded in fields such as counter-piracy and military-to-military relations. Since the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) remains intergovernmental, understanding major EU countries’ foreign policy is crucial to analyse CFSP’s advance towards China. Namely, this research considers the approach of the Big Three EU Member States (France, Germany and the UK) towards China from 2003 to 2018. This timeframe is relevant because in 2003 the European Security Strategy (ESS) and the EU-China Strategic Partnership are signed; later, in 2016, the Brexit referendum is held, and the Joint Communication ‘Elements for a new EU strategy on China’ and the European Global Strategy are released. Finally, in 2018 the EU releases the EU’s Asia security strategy, and a European strategy on the BRI.

The theoretical framework considered is Europeanisation because it helps trace European and national policy changes, analyse and compare their development and the shaping of the CFSP. Europeanisation is characterised as an interrelated process: changing national foreign policies following participation in EU foreign policy (top-down); projecting national preferences (bottom-up) and exchanging of ideas within the EU (cross-loading). By building on Reubens Wong’s study on France’s Europeanisation of its Human Rights policy to China, this thesis assesses whether the Big Three have attempted to upload their national foreign and security policies, through which mechanisms and with which outcomes. The development of the CFSP towards China is therefore tested against the empirical record of their respective policies.
The main hypothesis is that the European vacuum in its CFSP vis-à-vis China provided the Member states (MS) with the opportunity to project their policies to the EU. In order to investigate this, this thesis contemplates each Big Three’s policies to the PRC by analysing primary sources, such as interviews of experts, public documents by Governments, Parliaments, foreign and defence ministries, speeches by Heads of state/government, etc., which may inform decisions on foreign and security policies.
Date of Award1 Nov 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorRamon Pacheco Pardo (Supervisor) & Alessio Patalano (Supervisor)

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