Strategic Competition with China

Is Europe Ready?

During the second panel, Dr. Alan Riley, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Statecraft, Edgars Rinkēvičs, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, and John Rood, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy of the United States considered the implications of the rise of China for the West in a discussion moderated by CEPA’s Fellow-in-Residence and Director of the U.S.-Romania Initiative Corina Rebegea. As a result of China’s economic success, use of high-tech surveillance to eliminate internal dissent, and aggressive infrastructure projects in Europe and throughout the world, the transatlantic Alliance is in a new era in strategic competition, and needs a unified strategy on Beijing based on our common values.


Under Secretary Rood stressed that the West and China are not destined for an adversarial relationship. However, at the moment China poses the greatest long-term threat to the Western way of life. Minister Rinkēvičs pointed out that while Latvia seeks—logically—to attract any new legitimate investment opportunity, Riga has some practical security concerns with China's Belt and Road Initiative, many of which transcend traditional national borders and therefore require responses at the NATO and European levels. Dr. Riley argued that China’s growth is not sustainable and that the West must consider what will happen once China inevitably draws down its assets in Europe. In the meantime, the West requires regulatory responses above the national level. The panelists concluded with a long-term assessment of the Chinese system, which comes at a cost—surveillance—that makes the Western system inherently more attractive in the long-run.