Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
Panel 502: Steps of De-bordering, Re-bordering and Co-bordering - EU and China's Belt and Road Initiative
Tuesday, 03/Sep/2019:
1:05pm - 2:35pm

Session Chair: Paulo Afonso Brardo Duarte, University of Minho
Location: Anfiteatro 7

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Steps of De-bordering, Re-bordering and Co-bordering - EU and China's Belt and Road Initiative

Chair(s): Paulo Duarte (University of Minho)

The aim of this panel is to underscore the importance of the China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in and for the European Union (EU). For that purpose the panelists have chosen to address the specific role of borders. At stake here are physical but also geopolitical and geoconomic borders, given that the BRI is not limited to trade nor connectivity. It also encompasses a more subtle but not less important impact on the patterns of integration, regionally (which is the case of Central Asia, and thus the role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as discussed by Cátia Costa), but also worldwide, to the extent that China aims at reaching the far West: the EU. The specific case of Portugal (the last boundary as Jorge Silva calls it) will be analysed. But before borders are discussed we find relevant to start with Carmen Amado Mendes perspective of China-EU relations, as these provide the panel with a significant background to better understand the BRI as well as the role of the EU vis-à-vis the BRI. Later Francisco Leandro and Paulo Duarte will explain the meaning of De-bordering, Re-bordering and Co-bordering within the EU-China dynamics. Based on a political science perspective that combines the theory of borders with the Copenhagen School and Paris School of security, we may arrive to the conclusion that through the BRI, China-EU relations are set to gain an unprecedented momentum in the following decades because borders (physical and geopolitical) are now subject to deep and silent reformulation.


Presentations of the Symposium


The Belt and Road Initiative and the Evolution of EU-China Relations

Carmen Amado Mendes
University of Coimbra

Sino-European relations, shaken by the events of Tiananmen (1989) and the subsequent imposition of economic sanctions and an arms embargo on Beijing, evolved since the mid-90s within a very constructive way. Since 1998, EU-China Annual Summits assemble European heads of state and government and Chinese leaders to discuss bilateral and global issues. Bilateral relations also gained a new meaning in 2003, with the adoption by the European Commission of a policy paper towards the PRC and subsequent signature of a Strategic Partnership with that country. Since then, the idea of negotiating a new comprehensive framework agreement evolved with the need of finding joint responses to global challenges. During the 9th EU-China Summit in Helskinki, the two sides agreed to open negotiations for a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), expected to go beyond the commercial area, framed by the 1985 Economic and Cooperation Agreement.

After reviewing the evolution of Sino-European relations, this paper will focus on current European reactions to the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, highlighting the (in)existence of a collective identity – and of its member states – questioning the predominance of national goals. The different positions of individual (or groups of) European countries regarding the most sensitive issues on the agenda require further clarification. Additionally, the paper will consider whether the Belt and Road Initiative will merely constitute a different institutional framework to the actual state of Sino-European relations or if it will be a step forward, opening doors to solve the main points of contention between both sides.


De-bordering Europe and China's Belt and Road Initiative

Francisco Leandro1, Paulo Duarte2
1City University of Macau, 2University of Minho

This paper argues that the Belt and Road Initiative (B&RI) as a de-bordering mechanism makes a positive contribution to border security. Three central concepts – de-bordering, re-bordering and co-bordering – are used to examine the future of borders, and further develop the notion of the ‘cycle’ of borders. This research adopts a political science perspective, and combines the theory of borders with the Copenhagen School and Paris School of security, bearing in mind the B&RI as an access strategy. Furthermore, the B&RI elements of connectivity are central to de-bordering in the context of the EU periphery. Finally, this paper maintains that the B&RI makes different contributions to border security, that borders are ‘alive’, and that they are the result of cooperative or antagonistic human interactions in which asymmetry in perception is the leading cause of conflict.


From Shanghai to Europe: Shanghai Cooperation Organization in China's Belt and Road Initiative

Cátia Miriam Costa

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is an international organization with a regional focus. At its foundation, the military cooperation and the prevention of terrorism were the pillars of the organization. However, with the evolution of the organization, the mechanisms of cooperation in SCO changed and the member states, mostly China and Russia, developed an important diplomatic work for the recognition of the organization at the international level. The United Nations recognized the SCO as a security regional organization. SCO’s has the official status of guest for organizations such as the ASEAN and the Commonwealth to participate in their meetings.

In the beginning, Europe saw the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as a reaction either to the end of the Warsaw Pact or to NATO as a Western military organization. The result was that SCO is one of the less studied organizations in the West. The diversification in membership, having India and Pakistan as member-states, and in activities with the non-chartered based bodies like the SCO Interbank Consortium, the SCO Business Council among others, turned SCO in one of the diplomatic arms of the two most important Shanghai Five (China, and Russia). For China, it became one of the diplomatic tools for the establishment of cooperation in the areas of transportation and of the joint business, in the way to Europe. The B&RI benefited from the involvement of China in SCO, being the most active member of the organization. Our main question is how does the SCO contribute for the B&RI and constitute a peaceful path to arrive in Europe?


The Portuguese Atlantic: The Last Boundary of China's Belt and Road Initiative

Jorge Tavares da Silva
University of Aveiro

This paper focuses on the Chinese investment in the European Union and the analysis of its particular interest in the Portuguese maritime assets. Lisbon has benefited from China's second wave of investment in Europe as a result of the 2008–2010 crisis, but its effects are discussed with worry in the academic and political spheres. National security issues are particularly sensitive, given the fact that China is acquiring and purchasing important assets, such as national energy companies and has strong interest on maritime infrastructures. It is included the deep-water Port of Sines and the new technological laboratory, STARLab, prepared for the observation of the ocean. There is an attempt to extend the Belt and Road Initiative to the westernmost coast of Europe. Portugal’s government be certain of the partnership with China can be very productive, despite public opinion growing scepticism. This study analyses the vicissitudes of Chinese interest in Portuguese sea and its geopolitical effects.

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