MSC – July 2021
Report of the Distinguished Reflection Group on Transatlantic China Policy
China is at the top of the transatlantic agenda. Throughout the first half of 2021, the Distinguished Reflection Group on Transatlantic China Policy, 21 individuals with a wealth of expertise on China and transatlantic relations, worked to advocate a more joined-up approach to China. Its report proposes a transatlantic agenda focused on achieving quick wins, with recommendations organized by seven issue areas, from economic issues to values and security.
The rise of a domestically authoritarian and globally assertive China renders transatlantic cooperation more relevant than at any time in recent history. At the Special Edition of the Munich Security Conference on February 19, 2021, US President Joe Biden spoke about the need “to prepare together for long-term strategic competition with China,” and German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on transatlantic partners to articulate a “joint agenda.” There has been significant convergence across the Atlantic regarding China. Areas of agreement are substantial and offer a solid basis for cooperation. To move cooperation forward, the Distinguished Reflection Group on Transatlantic China Policy advocates a pragmatic approach identifying joint action where possible and managing differences where necessary.
“Faced with the reality of China’s policies today, the democracies of Europe and North America must join forces to defend and advance their interests and their values.”
Wolfgang Ischinger and Joseph S. Nye, Jr.•Co-Chairs of the Distinguished Reflection Group on Transatlantic China Policy
The Reflection Group was convened by the Munich Security Conference in cooperation with the Mercator Institute for China Studies and Aspen Strategy Group. Chaired by Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger and Professor Joseph S. Nye, Jr., it brought together 19 leading experts on China and transatlantic relations from the US and Europe. Throughout the first half of 2021, members worked in sub-groups as well as in plenary formats and engaged in outreach to transatlantic decision-makers, developing ideas on how to arrive at a more joined-up transatlantic approach to China.
The report “Mind the Gap: Priorities for Transatlantic China Policy” concludes the six-month work of the Reflection Group and represents an effort by the co-chairs to capture the prevailing opinion within the group. It proposes a transatlantic agenda focused on achieving quick wins. Such quick wins are important both for their impact with China as well as for establishing confidence on both sides of the Atlantic that cooperation is attainable and worthwhile. Consistent transatlantic cooperation may also create a basis for a more fruitful dialogue with China in the future. The report suggests priorities for joint action in seven issue areas, ranging from levelling the economic playing field with China, to setting the agenda in international institutions, and to preserving a balance of power in the Indo-Pacific.
Download the Report
Bibliographic data: Wolfgang Ischinger and Joseph S. Nye, Jr., “Mind the Gap: Priorities for Transatlantic China Policy – Report of the Distinguished Reflection Group on Transatlantic China Policy,” Munich/Berlin/Washington, DC: Munich Security Conference, Mercator Institute for China Studies, Aspen Strategy Group, July 2021, https://doi.org/10.47342/GXWK1490. Download (PDF) – 2 MB
About the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS)
Since its foundation in 2013, MERICS has established itself as the leading European think tank on China. MERICS publications often drive China policy debates in Europe and beyond and are frequently quoted in international media. MERICS experts are regularly consulted for their independent expertise by senior public and private sector decision-makers from across Europe.
About the Aspen Strategy Group (ASG)
The Aspen Strategy Group’s mission is to provide a bipartisan forum to explore the preeminent foreign policy challenges the United States faces. Its cross-disciplinary and high-level examination of policy strategies for addressing preeminent and emerging topics makes it crucially relevant to the American and global policy communities.