Human rights or economic ties: what does the EU want from China?


A joint online event of Political Capital and National Endowment for Democracy on Chinese, Russian authoritarian influence in the EU and the Union’s foreign policy

Date: 14 July 2021

Venue: online

Language: English (no interpretation)




The European Union has faced multiple foreign policy challenges in the past two years, and more and more of these concern China, including Beijing’s mistreatment of its Uyghur minority and its efforts against Hong Kong’s democracy, as well as the Chinese decision to implement counter-sanctions against EU institutions and personnel. Naturally, the situation in Russia, the Belarussian presidential elections, or the Azerbaijan-Armenia war continue to pose problems as well. In many cases, the European Union failed to provide swift and adequate answers to these challenges even though the European Parliament has demanded tough action on authoritarian actors. It was, in fact, the EP, the Union’s most hawkish institution, that struck the largest blow to authoritarian influence in the EU by freezing negotiations on the ratification of the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI). On this event, Political Capital will reveal the results of its two-year-long research project on authoritarian shadows in the EU, which was carried out with the help of our valued partners, journalist Fabian Schmid from Austria, the Center for the Study of Democracy from Bulgaria, the Prague Security Studies Institute from Czechia, journalist Michal Kacewicz from Poland, Global Focus from Romania, and the Institute for Public Affairs from Slovakia, and with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy.


We will discuss the following questions, among others:

  • Is it possible to balance the EU’s relationship with China between economic interests and the human rights aspect?
  • Should the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investments be ratified? What are the Parliament’s criteria for ratifying it?
  • How can the United States and the European Union work together on China? What are the main topics where the sides can cooperate and where do views differ too much on the two sides of the Atlantic?
  • Should the EU help Taiwan? How could it do so?
  • What should the EU and its member states do to counter Russia’s hostile actions against the Union and its partners?
  • What can be done to slow down the spread of disinformation in Europe in the short- and long-term?
  • Does the European Union need a more integrated, united approach to foreign policy?
  • How should the EU’s foreign policy decision-making be reformed to allow the block to react more efficiently to foreign policy crises?
  • How does authoritarian influence materialize in European institutions, including the Parliament?



10:00-10:05     Welcoming remarks

Péter Krekó, director, Political Capital


10:05-10:15     Introducing study results

Péter Krekó, director, Political Capital and Patrik Szicherle, analyst, Political Capital


10:15-10:30     Remarks on EU-US cooperation on China

Kevin Sheives, Associate Director at the International Forum for Democratic Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy


10.30-11.30     What is the future of the EU-China relationship?  

Reinhard Bütikofer, Germany, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen (Greens/European Free Alliance)

Katalin Cseh, Hungary, Momentum (RE)      

Radan Kanev, Bulgaria, Democrats for Strong Bulgaria (EPP)

      Moderator: Péter Krekó, Political Capital


11:30-11:45     Q&A


Participating in the online event is subject to registration. Please register on the following link:             

+36 20 665-0384
+36 20 665-0384