World Affairs

Bridging the Gap: Priorities for Transatlantic China Policy

February 18, 2023  • Aspen Strategy Group

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The Aspen Strategy Group (ASG), the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS), and the Munich Security Conference (MSC) were pleased to publish and release “Bridging the Gap: Priorities for Transatlantic Policy” at the 2023 Munich Security Conference.

In July 2021, the ASG, MERICS, and MSC published a report called “Mind the Gap: Priorities for Transatlantic China Policy.” It was based on the work of a reflection group bringing together distinguished Americans and Europeans with a wealth of expertise on China and transatlantic relations. 

The 2021 report recognized that European and North American policies on China have different starting points. Nevertheless, it noted that there had been significant convergence across the Atlantic regarding China in recent years, providing a basis for closer cooperation. The reflection group advocated a pragmatic approach identifying joint action where possible and managing differences where necessary.

Eighteen months on, ASG, MERICS, and MSC decided to review the state of play and produced an update with the support of members of the reflection group as a contribution to the 2023 Munich Security ConferenceBridging the Gap.” 

In a nutshell, the 2023 report concludes that there has been further convergence in perspectives, solid progress in terms of creating a framework for structured dialogue, and a number of joint actions taken. At the same time, significant gaps remain. This is partly a matter of differences in economic exposure and different assessments regarding risks and benefits of entanglement with China. But strategic concerns are also at play: Whereas U.S. views have mostly aligned on a more confrontational approach, key European players remain concerned about the emergence of antagonistic “blocs.”

Therefore, despite the progress achieved, Europeans and North Americans need to continue to work to bridge the gap in their respective China policies. To this end, the new report proposes a series of actions organized along seven issue areas.

Editors: Mikko Huotari, Anja Manuel, and Boris Ruge