This is because China holds the key for regional cooperation and integration in East Asia. Thus, facilitating the projection of the EU's soft power to East Asia could become a priority for the new EU member states.
The policy of the EU towards China is a multilevel engagement policy. Furthermore, it is a mixture of bilateral and multilateral approaches.2 This partnership is not strategic in the military sense. Yet, the issue of the lifting of the European arms embargo against China indicates that hard security issues have entered EU-China affairs. The Premier of the State Council of the PR China, Wen Jiabao, has coined the term 'comprehensive strategic partnership'. Wen defines the term in the following way: "By "comprehensive", it means that the cooperation should be all-dimensional, wide-ranging and multi-layered. It covers economic, scientific, technological, political and cultural fields, contains both bilateral and multilateral levels, and is conducted by both governments and non-governmental groups. By "strategic", it means that the cooperation should be long-term and stable, bearing on the larger picture of China-EU relations. It transcends the differences in ideology and social system and is not subjected to the impacts of individual events that occur from time to time. By "partnership", it means that the cooperation should be equal-footed, mutually beneficial and win-win. ...
Politically, they share much in common as both believe in multilateralism, pursue democracy in international relations and work for safeguard the authority of the United Nations. China's integration into the global economy will further accelerate with its recent accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Numerous key sectors of China's burgeoning economy, such as banking and finance, are being forced to open up and liberalize, regardless of whether they are prepared. Beyond economics, China is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, possesses intercontinental-range nuclear weapons, and has become gradually more active in a host of regional and multilateral organizations.
There is considerable debate about the size of China's economy relative to that of other economies. The value of Chinese exports has increased rapidly in recent years, and it is now the world's third largest goods exporter after the US and the EU.4 The total value of China's goods exports in 2005 was $762 billion, nearly 10% of the world total, compared with $593 billion in 2004, an increase of 28.4%. It has also become the world's largest importer, with goods imports valued at $660 billion, or 8.2% of the world total. China's trade in goods surplus was $102 billion for the whole of 2005 (4.6% of GDP), more than triple the previous year's surplus of $32 billion (1.7% of GDP).5 In spite of all such impressive figures, development is certainly not peaceful in China at present and dangers inherent in political and economic decentralization are many. China's rapid economic growth, its increasing competitiveness and its growing goods exports have raised concerns in the EU and the US. A number of specific trade issues - textiles, leather shoes and car