Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 05/2014

The Current State of European Union–China High-Tech Cooperation

May-Britt U. Stumbaum, Oliver Bräuner

September 2010

Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, University of California


In line with the European policy of supporting China’s economic reform and development, research institutes and companies in the European Union (EU) have been the major sources for high-technology exports to the People’s Republic of China in the past thirty years. Dual-use technologies ranging from aerospace to semiconductors play a central role for economic development as well as for modern military development, including network-centric warfare. Yet a comprehensive EU paradigm on China’s military rise and the impact of these technology transfers has not evolved. The EU–China “strategic partnership” is still dominated by economic considerations. Lack of coordination between the national and the European level contribute to the risks accompanying EU–China collaboration in this field. The differences between EU and U.S. perceptions of China’s military rise provide potential for further Transatlantic discord, as happened during the acrimonious debate on the intended lifting of the EU arms embargo on China in 2004–2005.