This piece is a part of the collection “All About China”—a journey into the historical past and numerous tradition of China via brief articles that make clear the lasting imprint of China’s previous encounters with the Islamic world in addition to an exploration of the more and more vibrant and sophisticated dynamics of up to date Sino-Center Japanese relations. Learn extra …
The cardinal theme of an rising “Biden Doctrine” — sounded repeatedly by the President since taking workplace and echoed within the Interim Nationwide Strategic Steerage issued in March — is the competition between democracies and autocracies. To prevail on this contest, the Biden administration has crafted an method centered on marshaling the diplomatic capital and sources of democratic allies and companions to sort out world challenges similar to local weather change, within the face of a looming risk from China.
President Biden has sought to revitalize the Transatlantic alliance, which, he declared in a speech on the 2021 digital Munich Safety Convention, “is and should stay a cornerstone of all that we hope to perform within the twenty first century.” His reaffirmation of America’s conventional assist for Europe was welcomed with reduction. Since then, Transatlantic relations have been on the upswing. The G-7, NATO, and US-EU summits (June 11-15) have been a profitable reset, promising higher engagement and coordination. But, whereas the diplomatic groundwork has been laid, it stays to be seen whether or not a extra bold Transatlantic agenda is feasible. Inevitably, this may take extra than simply suave rhetoric, private chemistry, and cordial summitry.
Forging an ally-centered partnership to assist nationally owned local weather motion initiatives in growing international locations may type a part of a brand new Transatlantic agenda. Focusing a few of these initiatives on the MENA area, particularly on the Gulf — the place US, European, and Chinese language pursuits intersect — and aligning them with native priorities, although with out casting them as a part of a zero-sum wrestle with Beijing, may contribute to a extra resilient and cleaner planet, a extra secure area, and a much less contentious manifestation of great-power competitors in a risky a part of the world.
The Finish of Europe’s Honeymoon with China?
In 2020 China overtook america to turn into Europe’s largest buying and selling companion in items. Nevertheless, the accelerating progress in China-Europe financial relations has occurred in a time of accelerating political friction. In March, the European Union (EU) joined america and Canada in imposing sanctions on Chinese language officers for human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and Beijing retaliated. The EU-China Complete Settlement on Funding (CAI), seven years within the making and agreed by the European Fee final November is frozen.
Many European leaders have grown skeptical and extra important of China. On April 19, the European Council (EC) accredited conclusions on an “EU technique for cooperation within the Indo-Pacific,” which whereas not explicitly directed at China nonetheless seeks to assist a rules-based multilateralism that Beijing seems intent on reshaping. A current EU high-level inside report takes a dim view of China and the prospects for cooperation.
In the meantime, on the nationwide stage, the UK has shifted towards a way more sober China coverage. The British Authorities has known as for a strategic reorientation of international and safety coverage in direction of the Indo-Pacific, together with an expanded naval presence within the Indian Ocean. After years of viewing China primarily as a profitable market, Germany, too, is within the strategy of reassessing its relationship with Beijing. Final September, Berlin introduced its intention to play a stronger safety function within the Indo-Pacific, although with out explicitly referring to China. Italy is now reconsidering its involvement within the Belt and Highway Initiative (BRI). Likewise, Stockholm’s relations with Beijing have grown frosty since Swedish authorities ordered the closure of Confucius Institutes and banned Chinese language distributors from its 5G rollout. Unmet expectations of financial cooperation, Beijing’s clumsy disinformation marketing campaign throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and divisive ways have created a backlash towards China in Central and Japanese Europe as effectively.
As well as, misgivings about Beijing have been rising inside the European enterprise neighborhood. Regardless of that China stays a major marketplace for German corporations, concern has been constructing in regards to the issues German companies working in China have confronted, which vary from pressured know-how switch, failures to guard mental property, and arbitrary customs selections, to state-subsidized takeovers. In the meantime, final 12 months, KPN, among the many Netherlands’ largest cell phone networks, turned one of many first European operators to exclude Huawei from its 5G community. Attitudes towards China are additionally trending unfavourable on the standard stage. Surveys carried out by the Pew Analysis Middle between February 1 and Might 26, 2021, in 17 superior industrial economies discovered that China’s fame has dropped markedly.
US and European Approaches to China: A Restricted Convergence
But, US and European approaches to China haven’t converged as sharply as is likely to be anticipated given more and more unfavorable European views of China and at the same time as there’s mounting proof of toughening European insurance policies towards Beijing. Europeans are understandably involved that they could get caught within the crosscurrents of great-power competitors. Their wariness is captured effectively by EU international coverage chief Josep Borrell, who, in a European Union Exterior Motion (EEAS) weblog submit a 12 months in the past this June remarked: “Amid US-China tensions as the principle axis of worldwide politics, the pressures to ‘select sides’ is rising.”
The Biden workforce is neither unaware nor dismissive of those considerations. Maybe partly to mollify allies, in his first main tackle as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “Our relationship with China might be aggressive when it ought to be, collaborative when it will probably be, and adversarial when it have to be.” Blinken’s language mirrors that of the European Fee (EC), which in 2019 used 4 phrases to determine the totally different points of its relationship with China — labeling the latter as a “world cooperation companion,” a “negotiating companion,” an “financial competitor,” and a “systemic rival.” Certainly, each side more and more agree that relations with China are multifaceted and sophisticated, and that China poses important political, financial, and even safety challenges.
The necessary work of turning this rising settlement on China right into a constructive and concrete agenda started in earnest with President Biden’s journey to Europe in June for a collection of summits, which produced a joint US-European dedication to work collectively. At NATO, the Allies agreed to “have interaction China with a view to defending the safety pursuits of the Alliance” and increase the primarily Transatlantic focus of the Alliance. G-7 leaders pledged to “promote our values, together with by calling on China to respect human rights and basic freedoms …” In addition they agreed to develop a democratic various to China’s Belt and Highway Initiative — the Construct Again Higher World (B3W) Partnership — that will provide low- and middle-income international locations “clear” choices for his or her infrastructure wants.
But, these encouraging mutual pledges and the robust solidarity mirrored within the language of the summits’ last communiqués nonetheless masks divergent outlooks concerning China coverage. To make certain, the EU has expressed curiosity in working with the Biden administration on issues associated to China, however an overtly anti-China coalition is unappealing and decoupling unrealistic. Many Europeans don’t view China, as their American counterparts do, via a “nice energy rivalry” lens. Previous to the current summits, Berlin and Paris had appeared reluctant to hitch a Biden-led marketing campaign to confront China — and nonetheless are. At Cornwall, French President Emmanuel Macron declared “the G-7 shouldn’t be a membership hostile to China.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whereas conceding that China is a “rival in lots of questions” was cautious to acknowledge the fact that China is a “companion in lots of points.” Distinguished members of the European enterprise neighborhood, whereas urging EU leaders to take a more durable line on Beijing, worry requires decoupling from China.
How, then, to translate the broadly suitable US-European views concerning China into concrete efforts to advance the values and pursuits that outline Transatlantic relations?
The US-EU-China Triangle: Discovering Widespread Floor in Local weather Motion
Local weather change is amongst a number of world challenges that america and its European allies regard as requiring urgently wanted collective motion. Additionally it is an space the place the US, Europe, and China would possibly discover widespread floor. Three-way collaboration on local weather change adaptation, vitality safety, and clear vitality with third international locations may function a type of “cooperative management” that leverages the Transatlantic partnership whereas serving to handle the US-China strategic rivalry at a decrease stage of depth.
Inside the sophisticated US-EU-China triangle, bilateral channels for exploring new avenues for cooperation on local weather motion and clear vitality exist already. The EU-China Partnership on Local weather has offered a high-level political framework for cooperation and dialogue since 2005. At the latest EU-China summit, in July 2018, the 2 sides reaffirmed their dedication to advance the implementation of the Paris Settlement and intensify their cooperation on local weather change and clear vitality.
A number of channels for Sino-American cooperation on local weather and vitality additionally exist, such because the Sino-US Vitality Cooperation Discussion board, the China-US Local weather Change Working Group, and the US–China Clear Vitality Discussion board. Within the US-China Joint Assertion Addressing the Local weather Disaster issued in April, the American and Chinese language sides “dedicated to cooperating with one another and with different international locations to sort out the local weather disaster, which have to be addressed with the seriousness and urgency that it calls for.”
Importantly, the joint communiqué issued on the conclusion of the US-EU summit the earlier month explicitly recognized local weather change as an space for constructive engagement with China, dedicated to determine a US-EU Excessive-Stage Local weather Motion Group, and welcomed G7 discussions to orient improvement finance instruments towards the vary of challenges confronted by growing international locations, together with in resilient infrastructure and applied sciences, addressing the impression of local weather change. [Italics added.]
The joint assertion launched following the twentieth EU-China Summit in 2018, talked about earlier, envisages “prospects for triangular cooperation on selling sustainable vitality entry, vitality effectivity and low greenhouse gasoline emission improvement in different growing international locations and help them to extend the capacities in combating local weather change, with explicit concentrate on least developed international locations, small island growing states and African international locations.” [Italics added.]
Thus, there seems to be scope not only for higher Transatlantic cooperation but additionally for an intensified trilateral dialogue on supporting local weather motion in growing international locations — together with international locations within the Center East and North Africa.
Local weather Motion within the Gulf: An Alternative for an Ally-Centered Agenda
The Center East and North Africa (MENA) faces huge sustainability challenges. Excessive droughts and warmth waves, coupled with inhabitants progress and water shortage, pose important dangers for international locations throughout the MENA. The Gulf sub-region specifically — an space the place US, European, and Chinese language pursuits intersect — is very uncovered to the consequences of local weather change and environmental degradation. Gulf states and societies face threats starting from rising sea ranges and excessive climate occasions to the impression on already-fragile ecosystems, together with a shift towards a decarbonized world financial system that may depress world oil demand.
Because of this, Gulf international locations are underneath stress to take local weather motion — and there are some encouraging indicators that they’re doing so. Certainly, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are shifting quick to develop tasks that sort out local weather change and speed up the transition to extra renewable sources of vitality. The Saudi and Emirati “imaginative and prescient” schemes, like these of the opposite GCC international locations, incorporate environmental sustainability as a key pillar. Based on the Worldwide Renewable Vitality Company (IRENA), the Gulf States have made “placing positive factors” in renewable vitality deployment in recent times. Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in addition to Bahrain and Oman, have set bold renewable technology objectives. Even throughout the pandemic, Gulf renewable corporations have solid forward with worldwide and native tasks.
As well as, Gulf international locations have been exploiting the industrial alternatives related to local weather motion by investing abroad in renewable vitality tasks. UAE has devoted roughly $16.8 billion to renewable vitality tasks in 70 international locations. Gulf corporations, notably Abu Dhabi’s Masdar and Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Energy, have been constructing world clear vitality portfolios. In the meantime, Gulf nationwide oil corporations similar to Saudi Aramco and Abu Dhabi Nationwide Oil Firm (ADNOC) are pushing to decarbonize their operations.
In recent times, GCC international locations’ attitudes and positions concerning world local weather motion have advanced from obstruction to constructive engagement. Gulf international locations have turn into extra lively and related actors in local weather diplomacy. In 2014, Qatar hosted COP18 and advocated for higher cooperation in analysis and information manufacturing. In April this 12 months, the UAE hosted the Regional Dialogue for Local weather Motion Summit, which offered a platform for collaborating international locations to collaborate of their responses to local weather change. The summit concluded with commitments to work collectively to adapt to local weather impacts and mobilize local weather finance. The identical month, Saudi Arabia and UAE took half within the US Leaders Summit on Local weather. Forward of the summit, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman introduced the Saudi Inexperienced Initiative and the Center East Inexperienced Initiative — extensions of Saudi Imaginative and prescient 2030 that can place the Kingdom on the middle of regional efforts to deal with environmental degradation and local weather change.
Like Saudi Arabia, UAE has made local weather motion a pillar of its home and international coverage and nationwide financial technique. Abu Dhabi is lobbying to host the Council of Events (COP28) world local weather summit in November 2023. In the meantime, Qatar has joined Saudi Arabia in co-founding (with Norway and Canada) the brand new Internet Zero Producers Discussion board, launched with an agenda to sort out methane and carbon emissions within the oil and gasoline sector. carbon seize, utilization, and storage (CCUS).
The Biden administration appears eager to harness the Gulf international locations’ recognition of and rising efforts to understand co-benefits of financial diversification and emission reductions to its personal bold world local weather agenda. Washington has used its convening energy and is searching for different methods to catalyze and assist such efforts. On the event of Particular Presidential Envoy for Local weather John Kerry’s go to in June, the US and Saudi Arabia affirmed their intention to interact bilaterally to advance efforts underneath the Internet-Zero Producer’s Discussion board, unleash the potential of unpolluted hydrogen, speed up the deployment of renewable vitality and low-emissions energy techniques, and improve local weather mitigation and adaptation analysis. Thus, the brand new US administration has begun to sketch the tough outlines of what might be scaled up and molded right into a “Transatlantic-Gulf States Local weather Motion Partnership.”
Within the meantime, America’s European allies are forging forward with daring local weather motion initiatives of their very own. As an extension of the European Inexperienced Deal, the EU is endeavoring to use the Crew Europe idea — of pooling efforts and organizing emergency help for companion international locations hard-hit by COVID-19 — to local weather and inexperienced restoration past Europe’s borders. Supporting growing international locations on this method is clearly a very good factor. However a joint US-EU mechanism arguably can be even higher.
Performing collectively, america and Europe may synergize efforts that each affect and lend assist to Gulf international locations’ drive for a sustainable future. There are quite a few methods the US and Europe may contribute to the Gulf’s inexperienced transition — some that will guarantee the sector shouldn’t be left vacant for China to occupy and others that may complement Chinese language actions or be enhanced by Chinese language participation.
The US and Europe may companion with Gulf international locations to facilitate entry to inexperienced finance for much less prosperous regional international locations, which would cut back the chance that China would fill the hole. There are ample alternatives for American and European companies to compete within the rising Gulf renewables market as most Chinese language renewables gamers in it are non-public sector entities that obtain much less assist from export-import banks than state-backed companies.
The US and Europe may coordinate actions designed to offer sectoral and technical assist for Nationally Decided Contributions (NDC) implementation. Different potential avenues for Transatlantic cooperation in advancing the Gulf’s inexperienced transition embrace local weather adaptation measures similar to drought and flash flood preparedness, capacity-building to assist catastrophe danger administration, and measures to strengthen rural communities’ resilience. Steps might be taken to forge partnerships with Gulf international locations within the improvement and deployment of mitigation and adaptation applied sciences, together with clear fuels similar to hydrogen, vitality storage, clear desalination, and carbon seize. Gulf international locations are additionally robust candidates for funding and different types of assist for water-energy-food (WEF) nexus initiatives geared toward decreasing the financial system’s dependence on water and at anticipating local weather’s results.
Moreover, Transatlantic efforts may concentrate on the “comfortable” parts of the inexperienced transition; that’s, on serving to Gulf states improve public local weather change information and drive wider adoption of eco-friendly practices in their very own societies in addition to regionwide. In a few of these endeavors, the US and Europe may widen the circle of ally-partners to incorporate Japan, South Korea, and maybe India. All this needn’t be geared toward countering or excluding China. Neither would such efforts in all situations be in direct competitors with China’s. A trilateral dialogue linked to a Transatlantic local weather motion partnership with the Gulf States may result in climate-beneficial tasks all through the Gulf and wider MENA area.
Reflexive anti-China views seem to have taken maintain in Washington. The Biden administration appears decided to construct a united entrance towards China. However a full-spectrum antagonistic coverage towards China is unlikely to be embraced by America’s European companions. As The Economist put it: “By framing the connection as a zero-sum contest, he [President Biden] is presenting them with a Manichean wrestle between democracy and autocracy, quite than the seek for co-existence.” An method forged in a way that’s geared toward undermining China’s efforts to overturn the worldwide order as an alternative runs the danger of undermining the Transatlantic partnership whereas failing to capitalize on its mixed strengths and benefits. Much better for the US to fulfill its European companions the place they’re than attempt to drag them the place they refuse to go.
The US, Europe, and China already coexist — on a planet hurtling dangerously towards cascading local weather crises. This can be a actuality that’s changing into ever clearer within the MENA, the place throughout the area there’s mounting proof of acute climate-related dangers. Within the face of heightening local weather dangers, rising financial diversification pressures, and looming peak oil demand, Gulf petrostates have pivoted from obstructive to constructive approaches to decarbonization. They’ve accelerated efforts to decarbonize at supply and to shift to renewables as a method of making new income streams whereas decreasing home use of oil/gasoline to reinforce export revenues.
US-European industrial and safety pursuits and inexperienced ambitions overlap with a number of nationwide sustainable improvement methods all through the MENA area. So additionally do China’s. These circumstances provide the Biden administration with a possibility to form an ally-centered Transatlantic local weather motion agenda for the Center East and North Africa, anchored in partnerships with the Gulf States — a strategic funding with an affirmative message that’s much less fixated on China and extra centered on constructing a cleaner, extra resilient world and a extra secure and affluent area. The present spate of maximum climate occasions world wide, coupled with the momentum more likely to be generated by COP26 in Glasgow in November, would possibly function a springboard to impress motion.
 For examples, see: President Joe Biden, “Opinion: Joe Biden: My journey to Europe is about America rallying the world’s democracies,” The Washington Put up, June 9, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/06/05/joe-biden-europe-trip-agenda/; and White Home, “Remarks by President Biden in Press Convention,” June 13, 2021, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2021/06/13/remarks-by-president-biden-in-press-conference-2/.
 If providers are thought of, EU-US commerce is 40% increased and the US nonetheless Europe’s main buying and selling companion.
 Janka Oertel, “The brand new China consensus: How Europe is rising cautious of Beijing,” European Council on Overseas Relations (ECFR) Coverage Temporary, September 2020, https://ecfr.eu/publication/the_new_china_consensus_how_europe_is_growing_wary_of_beijing/; Marc Julienne, “In direction of More durable Bilateral Relations Between EU and China,” IFRI Lettre du Centre Asie, No. 84, September 18, 2020, https://www.ifri.org/en/publications/editoriaux-de-lifri/lettre-centre-asie/towards-tougher-bilateral-relations-between-and; Andrew Small, “Why Europe is Getting Robust on China and Why It Issues to Washington,” Overseas Affairs, April 3, 2019.
 See for instance: Josep Borrell, “China, america and us,” European Exterior Motion Service, July 31, 2020, https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquartershomepage/83644/china-united-states-and-us_en; NATO, “Remarks by NATO Secretary Normal Jens Stoltenberg on launching #NATO2030 – Strengthening the Alliance in an more and more aggressive world,” June 8, 2020, https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/opinions_176197.htm.
 Jan Petter Myklebust, “Confucius establishments shut as China relations deteriorate,” College World Information, Might 16, 2020, https://www.universityworldnews.com/submit.php?story=20200513092025679; and Charlie Duxbury, Stuart Lau, and Laurens Cerulus, “The EU’s entrance line with China: Stockholm,” Politico, February 10, 2021, https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-front-line-china-stockholm/.
 Joshua Posaner, “Estonia to reject China-backed Baltic tunnel plan over safety fears,” Politico, July 31, 2020, https://www.politico.eu/article/estonia-toreject-china-backed-baltic-tunnel-plan-over-security-fears/; and Joyce Huang, “China’s ‘Coercive Diplomacy’ Backfires as Czech Senate Delegation Visits Taiwan,” VOA Information, August 30, 2020, https://www.voanews.com/east-asia-pacific/chinas-coercive-diplomacy-backfires-czech-senate-delegation-visits-taiwan.
 Daniel Michaels, “European Enterprise Leaders Need a Stronger Hand With China, Not Decoupling,” Wall Avenue Journal, July 4, 2021.
 Michaels, “European Enterprise Leaders Need a Stronger Hand With China, Not Decoupling.”
 For a considerate dialogue of managing the rivalry, see Timothy R. Heath and William R. Thompson, “Avoiding U.S.-China Competitors is Futile: Why the Finest Choice is to Handle Strategic Rivalry,” Asia Policy 13, 2 (2018): 91-120.
 Marcus Dubois King (Ed.), Water and Battle within the Center East (Oxford, UK: Oxford College Press, 2020); Johan Schaar, “A CONFLUENCE OF CRISES: ON WATER, CLIMATE AND SECURITY IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA,” Stockholm Peace Analysis Institute (SIPRI), July 2019, https://www.sipri.org/websites/default/information/2019-07/sipriinsight1907_0.pdf; Rutger Willem Hofste, Paul Reig, and Leah Schleifer, “17 international locations, residence to one-quarter of the world’s inhabitants, face extraordinarily excessive water stress,” World Assets Institute, August 6, 2019, https://www.wri.org/insights/17-countries-home-one-quarter-worlds-population-face-extremely-high-water-stress; Hossein Solomon and Arno Tausch, “Overcoming the Environmental Problem within the MENA Area,” in Arab MENA International locations: Vulnerabilities and Constraints Towards Democracy on the Eve of the World COVID-19 Disaster (Springer, 2021): 233-244.
 Embassy of the UAE to america, https://www.uae-embassy.org/about-uae/vitality/international-engagement. See additionally Larry Luxner, “Local weather diplomacy can flip motion into outcomes: UAE minister,” New Atlanticist, April 25, 2021, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/climate-diplomacy-can-help-turn-action-into-results-uae-minister/.
 Jon Whiteaker, “Gulf states flip from oil to embrace the vitality transition,” Funding Monitor, April 21, 2021, https://investmentmonitor.ai/vitality/gulf-states-energy-transition.
 Mariam Al Shamma, “Gulf hydrocarbon producers stare down the vitality transition,” IHS Markit, June 14, 2021, https://ihsmarkit.com/research-analysis/gulf-hydrocarbon-producers-stare-down-the-energy-transition.html.
 Mohammad Al-Saidi, Esmat Zaidan, and Suzanne Hammad, “Participation modes and diplomacy of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) international locations in direction of the worldwide sustainability agenda,” Improvement in Apply 29, 5 (2019: 545-558.
 “Saudi crown prince declares Inexperienced Saudi Initiative, Inexperienced Center East Initiative,” Arab Information, March 27, 2021, up to date April 30, 2021, https://www.arabnews.com/node/1832861/saudi-arabia; Mariam Nihal, “Saudi Inexperienced Initiative: Every thing it’s essential to find out about plan to plant 50 billion timber,” The Nationwide, April 5, 2021, https://www.thenationalnews.com/gulf/saudi-arabia/saudi-green-initiative-everything-you-need-to-know-about-plan-to-plant-50-billion-trees-1.1194931; “Saudi Arabia goals for 50% renewable vitality by 2030, backs large tree planting initiative,” Local weather Information, March 31, 2021, https://www.climatechangenews.com/2021/03/31/saudi-arabia-aims-50-renewable-energy-2030-backs-huge-tree-planting-initiative/; Oliver Poole, “Saudi Arabia bets the home on a greener planet,” The Unbiased, April 25, 2021, https://www.unbiased.co.uk/information/world/middle-east/saudi-arabia-green-b1837149.html.
 Robert Mogielnicki, “China Strengthens Its Presence in Gulf Renewable Vitality,” The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington (AGSIW), June 10, 2020; and Klaus et al., “China-Mideast Gulf: Greener Vitality Future?”
 “Biden’s new China doctrine,” The Economist (July 17-23, 2021): 11.