This course deals with the important triangle US-China-Europe. The course primarily focuses on political/geopolitical issues and the role of trade and economic relations among the above three powers. The initial lectures/seminars of the course will review the very different foreign policy philosophies and approaches that characterize all three countries’ approach to global affairs before then focusing on some very concrete and practical foreign policy case studies that shape triangular relations between the US, China and Europe.
The first section of the course focuses on some conceptual foreign policy issues, dealing with the three countries’ foreign policy ‘philosophy’ and ‘grand strategy.’ In this context the course also explores the emerging rivalry between Europe (and not least its key player Germany) and the United States regarding how to ‘manage’ the rise of a globally ambitious China. Berlin and Washington display a very different understanding of the instruments and methods best deployed on behalf of a policy of global cooperation and engagement, conflict prevention and, if necessary, conflict resolution in their dealings with China. Some of the auxiliary issues to be investigated in this context include the questions whether or not past experiences of both cooperation with and enmity toward Beijing play a role. Do stereotypical prejudices and racial presumptions influence Berlin and Washington’s foreign policies? Are Germany and the U.S. mostly influenced by notions of economic and political realism or play elements of idealism a role (perhaps particularly regarding Merkel’s approach to China)? The subsequent sections of the course deal with a fairly large number of case studies. Among these case studies are an analysis of the disputes about ‘Market Economic Status’, the controversy that surrounded the creation and membership of the AIIB, the TTP attempt, the role of the car industry in trade relations with China, but also the South-China Sea conflict, the impact of the Belt and Road initiative, the differing importance of the human rights factor in European and American relations with China, as well as China’s recent ‘investment binge’ in Europe and the U.S., and some other issues.