Tag Archives: European Union

EU-AU

Mai’a Davis Cross’ Op-Ed titled “EU leaders should change tone when talking to rest of the world” indirectly raised an interesting point: when she mentions “The ultramodern African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, funded and build by China”. While China is known for its eagerness in providing visible infrastructure, the African Union’s organizational structure obviously resonates more with the EU’s than with China’s.

Today, the fourth EU-Africa Summit opened in Brussels. (While it seems to be referred to as such and not the EU-AU summit, leaders from both the EU and AU institutions are present). Various publications reflect interestingly on the PD aspect of it. On the one hand, an article republished on AllAfrica.com from The Inquirer (Monrovia) comments on the press release issued by the European Union Delegation to Liberia, which seems to be a rather thoughtful PD move: phrases such as “Leaders from Africa and the European Union are to discuss as equal partners”, “the everyday concerns of our citizens”; “improve the quality of hope of our population” are repeated throughout (http://allafrica.com/stories/201404021045.html?viewall=1). On the other hand there is a buzz about Mugabe’s boycott due to the EU’s refusal to issue his wife a visa (http://www.news24.com/Africa/Zimbabwe/EU-AU-summit-Mugabes-wife-not-invited-20140325) and Jacob Zuma’s boycott due to the perceived “cherry-picking” of African leaders eligible to attend (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/eu-and-africa-hold-summit-to-boost-ties/2014/04/02/390c56ce-ba4b-11e3-80de-2ff8801f27af_story.html) , reflecting not-so-equal partner relations.

Back to Cross’ Op-Ed, I think that beyond the content aspects (increasing political cooperation and economic strategies), it would make sense for the AU and EU to reflect on and learn from each other’s successes and failures in terms of organizational processes. It would not only be constructive for both, but if done transparently and wisely it could be a smarter PD move as well than just letting disgruntled actors vent on international media.

China’s “Panda Diplomacy” and China-EU relations

giant-panda

Just in time for our week of readings focusing on Chinese Public diplomacy efforts comes the first visit of a Chinese leader, President Xi Jingping, to European Union institutions in Brussels! Originally for this blog post, I wanted to focus on the Melisson and Cross piece for the Clingendael Institute about how the EU can address its own PD dilemma, but I’ll have to save that for later, because I ran across this priceless article that I think perfectly illustrates China’s “charm offensive” approach to Public Diplomacy: http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20140331/world/China-s-panda-diplomacy-to-ease-EU-talks.512925

Two pandas (Xing Hui and Hao Hao) are being used as official envoys for China; they were sent to visit a Belgian zoo a month ahead of Xi’s visit, partly in order to send a message to the EU that China is willing to take a less confrontational stance on trade issues and ready to resolve trade disputes. One of the top items of President Xi’s agenda in Europe is pushing the EU to consider a massive free-trade deal with China. Interestingly, the visit of the two furry ambassadors has had some unintended diplomatic consequences; it has irritated long standing regional rivalries in Belgium. The pandas are being housed in a zoo in the French-speaking region of Wallonia (hometown of Belgian PM Elio di Rupo), which has angered the largest zoo in the country, located in Dutch-speaking Flanders, and caused separatist Flanders politician Bart de Waver to show up on a TV talk show dressed as a panda! http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/china-s-xi-seeks-win-win/1054644.html

It remains to be seen whether Xi’s desire to show a softer, fuzzier side of China to the EU will have its intended effect: it’s being reported that most of the EU member states have resisted Chinese pressure to include references to a joint-trade pact in the joint statement that will be released after Xi’s visit with leaders in Brussels.