Een nieuwe rol voor de oude wereld

CAMBRIDGE – De opkomst van China heeft veel vragen opgeworpen voor het Westen, waarbij sommigen zich afvragen of het het doel is om de leidende mondiale rol van een met zichzelf worstelend Europa over te nemen. Zoals een columnist het stelde: ‘Er is maar weinig dat Europese regeringen kunnen doen in Oost-Azië, behalve dienen als marketingmanagers voor hun eigen zakenleven’. Met noch het diplomatieke gewicht, noch de militaire kracht om een indruk te maken in de regio zou Europa de krachtpatserij beter aan de Verenigde Staten kunnen overlaten. Maar dit hoeft niet het geval te zijn.

Voor Europa zijn de implicaties van de opkomst van China verstrekkend, om te beginnen met de strategische ‘draai’ van de VS richting Azië. Na meer dan 70 jaar als topprioriteit van de VS begint Europa zijn geprivilegieerde positie te verliezen in de ogen van Amerikaanse beleidsmakers. Bovendien is de Europese verkoop van ‘high-tech dual-use’ producten die de Amerikaanse veiligheidsfunctie in Azië compliceren er toe gedoemd om frictie te veroorzaken.

Desondanks zijn waarschuwingen dat het Atlantische partnerschap zal eroderen zeer voorbarig. Het zegt heel wat dat de regering van president van VS Barack Obama de term ‘draai’ (wat zich ergens van afwenden in zich draagt) heeft vervangen met ‘her-balanceren’. Deze verandering reflecteert de erkenning dat de Chinese groeiende economische dominantie niet het belang van de Europese Unie te niet doet, die de grootste economische entiteit ter wereld blijft en een leidende bron van economische innovatie, om waarden als de bescherming van de rechten van de mens nog maar niet te noemen.

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