Image Source: CHOICE

China Observers in Central and Eastern Europe (CHOICE) and Association for International Affairs (AMO) organized a conference titled “EU-China Relations: Priorities of the Czech EU Presidency” on June 10, 2022 in Prague. The closed-door by-invitation-only conference gathered high-level Czech and European policymakers as well as prominent China experts to discuss the current challenges of China-EU relations and the opportunities for the upcoming Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU. The discussion was framed by the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, which alerted the EU countries to China’s support of Russian aims in Europe and also gave rise to questions about the lessons of the strategic dependencies on Russia for the bloc’s ties with China.

Even if managing the fallout of the war in Ukraine will dominate the EU agenda in the upcoming months, the Czech Republic is still expected to contribute to the evolving EU policy towards China. Stepping up the EU’s presence in the Indo-Pacific region under the renewed security tensions in Europe, finding a complementary approach with the United States, and addressing the role of China and the EU’s like-minded partners will be among the key tasks for the Czech Republic.

The conference was opened by Deputy Foreign Minister Jiří Kozák, discussing the ongoing revision of the strategic partnership with China and priorities for the Czech Presidency. Subsequently, the first panel featured Dominic Porter, the Head of China division at the European External Action Service, Martin Riegl, Head of Defense Policy Department at the Ministry of Defense, David Steinke, Acting Director of Department of Asia and Pacific at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Alice Rezková, the Co-founder of the Czech-Taiwanese Business Chamber. The discussion, moderated by CHOICE Founder and Leader Ivana Karásková, revolved around the changing perception of China and the expectations from the Czech EU Presidency to contribute to the China agenda. 

The second panel moderated by CHOICE analyst Filip Šebok zoomed into strategic dependencies on China, gathering Peter Hefele, Policy Director of the Brussels-based Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, Alica Kizeková, a Senior Researcher at the Institute of International Relations in Prague, Justyna Szczudlik, Deputy Head of Research, Head of Asia-Pacific Programme and China analyst at Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM), and Gudrun Wacker, Senior Fellow at Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) in Berlin.

Finally, offering a view from the Czech legislative branch on the upcoming Presidency, the conference was concluded by the final remarks of Pavel Fischer, the Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and Security of the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic. 

CHOICE will continue closely following the Czech EU Presidency in our upcoming analytical and advocacy work as it presents an important opportunity to transfer a CEE perspective on China relations also to the EU level.