Weak politics – depoliticisation as strategic choice: An analysis of Chinese priorities in Sino-EU relations

Daniel Hammond, Jing Jing

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter explores the question of weak politics in China’s engagement with the EU and ASEAN. Focusing on developments prior to and under the newly established leadership of General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, the chapter will first discuss whether weak politics exists between China and the EU. Based on a content analysis of both Chinese English language and Chinese language newspaper articles and academic discourses on Chinese relations with the EU we argue that the sense of weak politics experienced in these relationships can be put down to the strategic choice of depoliticisation by China and mismatched expectations of political interactions and approaches of both actors. The EU expects to have political interactions with China on topics disfavoured by the Chinese government. Weak politics manifests in specific aspects of Sino-EU relations: depoliticisation, bilateral distinctions, and red-lines which are all apparent under the so-called Xi-Li new line. A short comparison of China’s relationship with ASEAN is made to further illustrate these points. We argue that in order for the EU to move beyond weak politics then a new understanding of what constitutes politics and a political relationship with Beijing needs to be established.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChina, East Asia and the European Union
Subtitle of host publicationStrong Economics, Weak Politics?
EditorsTjalling Halbertsma , Jan van der Harst
Place of PublicationLeiden
ISBN (Electronic)9789004291430
ISBN (Print)9789004291423
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2016

Publication series

NameInternational Comparative Social Studies
ISSN (Print)1568-4474


  • China
  • depoliticisation
  • EU
  • politics


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