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Rising to the Challenge: Europe’s Security Policy in East Asia amid US-China Rivalry


China’s growing power and assertiveness towards its smaller and weaker neighbours has been a wakeup call for the European Union and its member states which, as a result, have stepped up their involvement in East Asia. EU security policy in the region shows many elements of alignment with the United States, but also differences. In North East Asia, the EU has adopted harsh sanctions against North Korea but, contrary to the Trump administration which continues to seek regime change, has left the door open for dialogue. Moreover, the EU supports the process of trilateral cooperation among China, Japan and South Korea, while Washington has traditionally been lukewarm towards a process that excludes the US and risks being dominated by Beijing. The transatlantic allies also show differing approaches with regard to maritime disputes in the South China Sea. While EU security policy in East Asia is largely complementary to that of Washington, in some cases Europe tends – albeit inadvertently – to favour Beijing.
Keywords: China, United States, European Union, East Asia, security policy