Europe and the challenge of the Belt and Road Initiative


Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapters


This chapter argues that the rapid rise of China has provoked mixed reactions and inconsistent responses in Europe. The European Union’s relations with China in recent years have been predicated on securing economic benefits while keeping a separate but wary eye on the political and strategic dimensions of China’s growing power. But, within this broad framework, the EU member states have differing needs and priorities. China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative not only seemingly merges the economic with the strategic but also accentuates the divisions within the EU over how to respond.

The various strands of the EU member states’ responses, ranging from positive to pragmatic to pessimistic, are discussed with examples drawn from key players and groups. With China willing to exploit differences between and within member states, Franco-German calls for greater European unity over BRI have proved unfulfilled, though the Covid-19 pandemic is changing the dynamics. Under Xi Jinping, BRI will remain a key component of China’s external policies even in the post-pandemic world, so Europe will have to learn to live with it and draw benefits without becoming dependent. Copyright © 2021 selection and editorial matter, Rahul Mishra, Azirah Hashim and Anthony Milner; individual chapters, the contributors.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAsia and Europe in the 21st century: New anxieties, new opportunities
EditorsRahul MISHRA, Azirah HASHIM, Anthony MILNER
Place of PublicationAbingdon, Oxon
ISBN (Electronic)9781003148067
ISBN (Print)9780367707989, 9780367707972
Publication statusPublished - 2021


Bridges, B. (2021). Europe and the challenge of the Belt and Road Initiative. In R. Mishra, A. Hashim, & A. Milner (Eds.), Asia and Europe in the 21st century: New anxieties, new opportunities (pp. 99-112). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.


  • Belt and Road Initiative
  • China
  • Debt-trap
  • EU
  • Geopolitics


Dive into the research topics of 'Europe and the challenge of the Belt and Road Initiative'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.