Europe and China in the times of COVID-19
China wanted to make 2020 a celebration of the 45th anniversary of its relations with the EU - a pivotal year. The unprecedented Covid-19 crisis has somewhat pushed Sino-European relations further to the edge by underlining the systemic rivalry between a divided West and an influential China. Undoubtedly, the global health situation has given China a lot of publicity - usually orchestrated or self-inflicted. In European public opinion, including Spain, the result for China's image has been at best mixed.
But as the Chinese communist party forcefully gets its act together with the upcoming annual parliamentary session, Europe has shown once again its divisions. On the surface, there is a hardening vis a vis China's growing presence in Brussels and some European capitals. On the other hand, China has shown considerable resilience and ambition. It pushed back the EU on several occasions and attacked European governments through social media. Furthermore, it has been expanding its capacities of influence and impact on Western democracies, which should lead to an increased cooperation between like-minded nations.
Philippe Le Corre is a nonresident senior fellow in the Europe and Asia Programs at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He specializes in China’s global rise, China’s relations with Europe and Eurasia, competition in the Asia-Pacific region, and Chinese foreign direct investments. Le Corre is also a senior fellow with the Harvard Kennedy School’s Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government, an affiliate with the Program on Europe and the Transatlantic Relationship at Harvard's Belfer Center and an associate in research with Harvard’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. From 2014 to 2017, he was a visiting fellow in the Foreign Policy Program at the Brookings Institution.
His career spans government, academia, media, and business. He has served as a special assistant for international affairs to the French defense minister, and as a senior policy adviser on Asia within the French Ministry of Defense’s directorate for international relations and strategy. In the private sector, Le Corre worked as a partner with Publicis Consultants in Paris and Shanghai, where he ran a team of advisers to the Shanghai World Expo 2010 Organizing Committee. He previously worked in Asia as a foreign correspondent for nine years, and has published extensively on the region in Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, South China Morning Post, Straits Times, Politico, National Interest, Le Monde, Les Echos, Nikkei Asian Review, Foreign Policy, and Foreign Affairs, among others. In 2018, he testified in the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs on the topic of Chinese investment and influence in Europe.