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China's (mis)perception of the European Union

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  1. Introduction
  2. The evolution of China's perceptions of Europe
    1. The first meetings of Chinese and European civilizations
    2. The construction of the perception of the EU during the Cold War
  3. Perceptions as misperceptions: China's wishful thinking
    1. The construction of a multipolar world
    2. The EU as a model for China's ?peaceful development?
  4. Realism stronger than perceptions: China's foreign policy towards the EU
    1. Multipolarity versus multilateralism: different views of the world
    2. Obstacles to a stronger relationship: China's disillusions
  5. Conclusion

The People's Republic of China's (PRC) rise and arrival as a superpower on the international stage makes it more necessary to study China's vision of the world,and how it perceives the different actors with which it interacts daily. The European Union (EU) is one of these important players, which engage China into dialogue and multilateral cooperation. In the framework of the course ?the EU as a global player?, it is interesting to see what China thinks of the EU, its role and place in international politics, and of their bilateral relationship. ?The opening policy implemented since the end of the 1970s has started a learning process for both China and the outside world to learn from each other.? This essay aims to contribute to further this mutual understanding. In order to do so, we will use books and articles written both by Western and Chinese scholars, so as to see how both sides view the issue. What can be noted is that ?European Studies is closely related to the Chinese understandings of the international political situation and the general line of Chinese foreign policy.? Therefore, studying the way China's perceptions of the EU may enable us to understand better China's view of international politics as a whole. In order to sum up the historical perceptions that China had of Europe, and later of the EU, we will mainly use two articles. The first is from Yu Shuo, retracing the ?encounters? between Chinese and Europeans from the 16th century onwards. The second one is from David Shambaugh describing Europe ? China relations during the Cold War and beyond.

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