The Dilemma of Strategic Autonomy: Pandemic Challenges in the EU’s Interaction with China and Japan
During the implementation of the EU-Japan Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA), the European Union (EU) and Japan held a series of webinars about COVID-19, covering green recovery, business, digitalization of society, public health, international trade, etc. Similarly, the EU Delegation to China hosted a seminar bearing upon green recovery and green stimulus in the post COVID era. Both China and Japan occupy an important place in the EU’s agenda of pandemic control and economic recovery. This paper will look into the challenges posed by the pandemic in the EU’s interactions with China and Japan.
The EU’s interest in cooperating with Asian players can be easily understood. After a decrease in daily cases in China and Japan, these two countries have begun recovering, enabling the EU to engage economically as market power and promote its values as a normative power. For China, the number of new daily cases has remained below 200 since March 2020. In Japan, after remaining stable in 2020, the number of new daily cases came to a peak in January 2021 and decreased to the level of 2020. As for the situation in Europe, after increasing from September 2020 onwards, the number of new daily cases in 2021 is still above the 2020 level.