Untapped Trilateralism: Common Economic and Security Interests of the European Union, the United States and China

  • Bates Gill
  • Andrew Small


In many respects, we live in a tripolar world. The European Union, the United States and the People’s Republic of China rank first, second and third respectively in gross domestic product (GDP) in the world, and together account for nearly 54 per cent of global GDP.1 They are the three largest traders in the world and their total imports and exports account for 36 per cent of all global merchandise trade.2 The members of the EU, China and the US account for more than 67 per cent of global military spending. In 2006–10, the US, China and just four EU countries (France, Germany, Greece and the United Kingdom) accounted for nearly 72 per cent of the global trade in major conventional weapons.3 The three parties’ combined populations make up about 30 per cent of the world’s 7 billion inhabitants. They are jointly the three largest emitters of greenhouse gases, with more than 56 per cent of total global emissions.4


World Trade Organisation Intellectual Property Right Chinese Leader Security Interest Shanghai Cooperation Organisation 
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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    This figure is for 2010 and is in purchasing power parity terms. International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database, September 2011 edition, accessed at: (27 December 2011).Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    Council of the European Union, Joint Press Communiqué ofthe 14th EU-China Summit., Beijing, China, 6474/012 (Presse 50), 14 February 2012.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    José Manuel Durão Barroso, President of the European Commission, Statement by President Barroso following the 14th EU-China Summit, Press point, Beijing, 14 February 2012, accessed at: (28 February 2012).Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, US-China Joint Statement, 19 January 2011, accessed at: (29 December 2011).Google Scholar
  5. 11.
    Gordon Brown, Beyond the Crash: Overcoming the First Crisis of Globalisation (London: Simon & Schuster, 2010), p. 152.Google Scholar
  6. 17.
    See, for example, Henry M. Paulson, On the Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System (New York: Business Plus, 2010), pp. 18, 273.Google Scholar
  7. 18.
    Paul Blustein, ‘The Nine-Day Misadventure of the Most Favored Nations: How the WTO’s Doha Round Negotiations Went Awry in July 2008’, The Brookings Institution, 5 December 2008, accessed at: (26 February 2012).Google Scholar
  8. 20.
    Michael Pettis, ‘Chinese Consumption and the Japanese “Sorpasso”’, China Financial Markets, 10 August 2010, accessed at: (15 February 2012).Google Scholar
  9. 22.
    On Chinese approaches to issues of sovereignty and intervention, see Allen Carlson, Unifying China, Integrating with the World: Securing Chinese Sovereignty in the Reform Era (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2005); Allen Carlson, ‘China’s Approach to Sovereignty and Intervention’, in Alastair Iain Johnston and Robert Ross (eds), New Directions in the Study of China’s Foreign Policy (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006), pp. 217–41; and Bates Gill, Rising Star: China’s New Security Diplomacy (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, revised edition, 2010), especially Chapter 4.Google Scholar
  10. 25.
    This data is revised and updated from David M. Lampton and Richard Daniel Ewing, The U.S.-China Relationship Facing International Security Crises: Three Case Studies in Post-9/11 Bilateral Relations (Washington, DC: Nixon Center, 29 January 2004), accessed at: (15 February 2012).Google Scholar
  11. 35.
    See Bates Gill, China’s North Korea Policy: Assessing Interests and Influences, United States Institute of Peace Special Report, July 2011, accessed at: (22 January 2012).Google Scholar
  12. 38.
    See Andrew Rettman, ‘Ashton pragmatic on China in EU foreign policy blueprint’, EU Observer, 17 December 2010, accessed at: (29 January 2012).Google Scholar
  13. 50.
    See Cheng Guangjin and Chen Weihua, ‘Survey reveals positive public attitudes’, China Daily, 10 February 2012.Google Scholar
  14. 53.
    Pew Research Center, China Seen Overtaking US as Global Superpower, Global Attitudes Project, 13 July 2011.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Bates Gill and Andrew Small 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bates Gill
  • Andrew Small

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations