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Expert Workshop “Inside China’s Cyber System”

Expert Roundtabe: The EU-China Relationship in the Age of Digital Geopolitics

June 20, 2022
Expert roundtabe on the relationship between the EU and China in the age of digital geopolitics in Berlin

In recent years, the EU-China relationship has become increasingly complex, with economic cooperation and geopolitical concerns intertwined. As China's global influence continues to grow, the EU faces a delicate balance between capitalizing on the economic opportunities China offers and safeguarding its own security and strategic interests. Moreover, the ongoing struggle for dominance in areas such as trade, technology, and strategic influence, as well as the decoupling processes between China and the United States, have added to the complexity of the EU's relationship with China.

Rapid advances in technology, particularly in areas such as 5G networks, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity, have profound implications for both economic cooperation and security concerns between the EU and China. For example, China's ambitious technological plans and its drive for dominance in emerging technologies have raised questions and concerns in the EU. Moreover, cyberspace has become a battleground for global powers, with state-sponsored cyber-attacks and cyber espionage posing a significant threat to the EU's security and sovereignty. China's role in these activities and the EU's ability to protect its critical infrastructure and sensitive information are of paramount importance.

These developments underline that technology and cyberspace have emerged as critical aspects in the context of the EU's relations with China and ongoing geopolitical dynamics. To navigate this landscape effectively, it is crucial to promote a comprehensive understanding of the complexities and implications of technology-driven geopolitics by examining the interplay between economic considerations, security concerns, and technological advances.

Against this backdrop, the Digital Society Institute (DSI) at ESMT Berlin hosted on June 20, 2023, an expert roundtable titled "The EU-China Relationship in the Age of Digital Geopolitics". The roundtable aimed to facilitate discussion between experts on cyber security concerns pertaining to China and Europe.

The workshop began with a presentation by Rebecca Arcesati, Lead Analyst at the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS), Berlin, outlining China’s approach to the governance of artificial intelligence. This structured overview was followed by a second presentation by Tim Rühling, Senior Research Fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations, discussing the strategic role of semiconductors and what this means for Europe. The ideas and arguments posed by the presenters were subsequently discussed at length. Thus, the expert roundtable provided a platform to discuss the issues at stake and to exchange ideas with colleagues from politics, academia, and industry.