Book Review: Mario Telò and Yuan Feng (eds), China and the EU in the Era of Regional and Interregional Cooperation

Date01 August 2021
Publication Date01 August 2021
AuthorWalker Darke
DOI10.1177/1478929920972920
SubjectCommissioned Book Reviews
https://doi.org/10.1177/1478929920972920
Political Studies Review
2021, Vol. 19(3) NP23 –24
© The Author(s) 2020
Article reuse guidelines:
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DOI: 10.1177/1478929920972920
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Commissioned Book Review
972920PSW0010.1177/1478929920972920Political Studies ReviewCommissioned Book Review
book-review2020
Commissioned Book Review
China and the EU in the Era of Regional and
Interregional Cooperation by Mario Telò and
Yuan Feng (eds). Brussels: Peter Lang, 2020. 374
pp., US$48.95 (pbk), ISBN 9782807613980.
As many of us sit cramped over our laptops
worrying about the impending second wave of
coronavirus, it is easy to forget about the global
picture. In other parts of the world, normality
has all but returned due to different cultural,
political and economic approaches to the virus.
China is one of these places. In these desperate
times, European Union (EU)–China relations
have somewhat deteriorated, at least rhetori-
cally. Somebody, somewhere needs to show us
the potential path towards a more cooperative
world.
The book China and the EU in the Era of
Regional and Interregional Cooperation does
exactly that. Despite it being written before
COVID-19, it remains a must-read. Numerous
contributors give an excellent analysis of
China’s emergence as a regional and global
power and its subsequent expansion and part-
nerships around the world. This book sets out
analysis on how, more than ever, the West
needs to do more to understand, communicate
and learn from our partners in East Asia, espe-
cially as key employment, growth and poverty
statistics travel in different directions in our
seemingly distant bubbles.
From the very onset, Mario Telò and Yuan
Feng set out the challenges and problems of
existing and future collaboration facing the EU
and China. If it is to step up its strategic partner-
ship, Ursula von der Leyen’s leadership of the
European Commission will be key in transition-
ing the relationship from one where Europe and
China have limited convergence and reciprocity
in areas such as trade, environmental regulation
and state investments.
Despite there being no simple nor singular
solution to how we get there, this book is a
reminder that walking away from regional and
interregional cooperation is not the answer. Telò
is right to signal that this sort of cooperation
could form the new ‘post-hegemonic form of
multilateral cooperation’ as recent developments
have shown we are only as strong as our weakest
neighbours.
Authors such as Jisheng Sun spell out the
theoretical and historical perspectives examin-
ing the approach of the Belt and Road Initiative,
an often misunderstood flagship project of
China, with focused aims of increased connec-
tivity and all the shared benefits that it encom-
passes. Chinese culture and tradition has
developed China’s approach to International
Relations, where many are far too focused on
Western-dominated discourse and theory and
practice.
Not only does the book seek to highlight the
political and economic implications between
the EU and China, it goes beyond. None are
more important than the works by Jurgen
Ruland, Fabricio Rodriguez and Sebastian
Santander. They dive deep into the global
nature of China’s cooperation in Latin America
and the potential for it to become a playing
field of strategic importance between China,
Europe and America. The differing approaches
that all these actors take when tackling inter-
regionalism are fascinating. Bilateral ties, crea-
tion/influencing of regional institutions and
infrastructure development between bordering
countries are just a few of the ways that China
seeks to develop relations.
This developmental regionalism across the
world has led China to gain many allies in its
international diplomacy, especially when
America has moved towards a more intro-
verted protectionist approach. Meanwhile,
China has gained support from its commitment

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