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The Old World’s New Roles

CAMBRIDGE – China’s rise has raised many questions for the West, with some wondering whether it is set to usurp a struggling Europe’s global leadership role. As one columnist put it, “there is nothing much European governments can do in East Asia, save serve as marketing managers for their domestic businesses.” With neither the diplomatic weight nor the military heft to make an impression in the region, Europe had better leave the heavy lifting to the United States. But this does not have to be the case.

For Europe, the implications of China’s rise are far-reaching, beginning with the United States’ strategic “pivot” toward Asia. After more than 70 years as a top US priority, Europe is beginning to lose its privileged position in the eyes of American policymakers. Moreover, European sales of high-tech dual-use products that complicate America’s security role in Asia is bound to create friction.