Asia Europe Journal

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 227–243 | Cite as

Managing the conceptual gap on sovereignty in China–EU relations

  • Zhongqi PanEmail author
Original Paper


While, historically, sovereignty is what Europeans invented and what the Chinese were forced to accept, today it is what Europeans try to bury and what the Chinese hold dear. A conceptual gap on sovereignty clearly exists between China and Europe which more often than not exerts a negative impact on their relationship. It breeds misunderstandings and disputes, makes it more difficult to reach agreements on many bilateral issues, and complicates China–Europe cooperation in third countries. But the conceptual gap on sovereignty does not prevent China and Europe from building a strategic partnership. Given that strengthening or weakening national sovereignty means totally different things to China and Europe, the two parties should jointly and proactively manage their divergence on sovereignty issues by mutual avoidance, mutual assurance, and mutual accommodation, in order to unlock sovereignty-related impasses in China–Europe relations.


Foreign Policy World Value Survey Territorial Integrity National Sovereignty Lisbon Treaty 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The author sincerely thank Malte Boecker, Zhimin Chen, Stanley Crossick, Christian Hauswedell, Gudrun Wacker, and other participants of the symposium “Building on Chinese–European Relations” in Berlin October 2009 for their helpful commentary and the Bertelsmann Foundation for its valuable support, and the Shanghai Pujiang Program for its sponsorship as well.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of International Relations and Public AffairsFudan UniversityShanghaiChina

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