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Bridging the Gap: Priorities for Transatlantic China Policy

Report by the Aspen Strategy Group, the Mercator Institute for China Studies, and the Munich Security Conference


By Security Conference

February 21, 2023



The new report by the Aspen Strategy Group, Mercator Institute for China Studies, and the Munich Security Conference discusses the current state of transatlantic China policy and describes ways to bridge the gap between their respective policies.

In July 2021, the Aspen Strategy Group (ASG), the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS), and the Munich Security Conference (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 Conference — “Bridging 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 US 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.




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