This research project explores the potential, and the limits, of the EU as a strategic actor in North-East Asia. It does so by focusing on a comparative analysis between EU motivations and aspirations towards China on space and defence matters and the perceptions and reactions of Chinese on the one hand and of Japanese, Taiwanese, South Korean and American policy makers on the other hand. The project is informed by and relates to the literatures on European foreign policy and the international politics of North-East Asia. It is innovative as it links these two broad areas of research. The study engages with the major viewpoints in these literatures and uses the method of structured, focused comparison for the purposes of examining both intended and inadvertent consequences of European foreign policy towards a country (China) for the surrounding regional system (North-East Asia) and the US’ strategic interests in the area. This would lend itself to a wider analysis of the potential, and of the limits, of European foreign policy and of the EU as a novel strategic actor. The research findings would provide both empirical knowledge on the determinants for the promotion of EU space and defence interests in China and on the perceptions and reactions of North-East Asian and American policy makers as well as theoretical insights into EU strategic actorness. The project would contribute to revisit current views in the literatures on European foreign policy and the international politics of North-East Asia by adding the analysis and discussion of the EU as a novel strategic actor in the region. The research findings would also be of use for EU policy-makers in developing a more precise set of policies tailored to China and North-East Asia in order to better promote EU interests and values in a part of the world that has become increasingly important for the socio-economic welfare of the EU.
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