European Guanxi: the EU and China are getting closer and closer

European Guanxi is a non-profit organization founded in September 2020 in Barcelona by a group of young Europeans who share a deep interest in China. The organization aims to create a network of young professionals, scholars, and students that discuss and analyze EU-China relations. To this end, European Guanxi provides a broader platform for debate, discussion, and analysis of EU-China relations. Personally, I joined the organization at the beginning of October 2020, and I am very glad to be part of it.

What does the name of the organization mean?

The very name of the organization, European Guanxi, recalls the organization’s objective. The Chinese word “关系” (guanxi), in fact, can be translated as “relationship” or “connection”, but its true meaning is much deeper, and derives from the centrality that relational networks have assumed in the history of Chinese society. Although the term has also attracted negative connotations over time, the organization wanted to return to the original meaning of the term: guanxi as that which gives essence and purpose to social interaction, or a strong bond as a mean to achieve individual and community fulfilment. The logo of European Guanxi precisely represents this correspondence between the European identity of its members and their aspiration to contribute positively to relations between the EU and China. European Guanxi actively works towards greater mutual understanding, trust, and cooperation between the two powers.

The logo of European Guanxi

What does European Guanxi do?

The organization’s objectives are based on the principles of mutual understanding, trust, and cooperation, striving, day by day, to contribute to a future in which international relations will be structured around these values. These values are present in all of the activities carried out by European Guanxi, even though they are currently partly limited by the ongoing global pandemic. Through the voices of its members and the dialogue with other organizations, European Guanxi tries to pave the way for a more homogeneous European voice, offering the possibility to learn more about the complex dynamics that govern China.

European Guanxi organizes a series of events, seminars, workshops, both online and, when possible, in person, with guests such as scholars, politicians, entrepreneurs, correspondents and professionals who are both in China and Europe, allowing for a better look at what is of most relevance when building relations with China. Articles or in-depth reports about China and its relations with the European Union are published almost on a daily basis, along with much more. Webinars, on the other hand, are organized on a weekly basis. The organization has an account on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and a YouTube channel as well as a webpage.

Why was this organization born?

The rise of China and its growing importance on the world stage has certainly had an impact on Europe. Economic ties between China and the EU have considerably increased over the years, as evidenced by the fact that the EU is China’s largest trading partner, and in turn the EU’s second largest trading partner. This relationship offers many opportunities, however, seizing these opportunities represents a new challenge. The European Commission has encouraged the EU countries to seek a more balanced relationship with China, defined in March 2019 as a “partner for cooperation”, a “partner for negotiations”, an “economic competitor” and a “systemic rival”.

The co-founders of European Guanxi; in order: Patrizia Cogo, Marina Ortiz Aguiló, Bárbara T. S. Sénécaut, Ilaria Tassari, Pablo Andrés Gutiérrez, Joan Martínez Abad, Alessia Paolillo, Antonio José Pagán Sánchez, Walker Darke, Julius Geißler, Peter Carberry, Laura Pipitone, Mauro Dellisanti e Martina Zuliani.

As the last term suggests, there has been a significant change in the perception of China in the EU. In the current global context, in which the world community has been unable to offer satisfactory responses to the growing economic inequality, the sense of loss of identity and powerlessness of some nations, it is essential for the EU to review its strategic priorities and its role in the world. Unity, coherence, and vision should guide the EU’s engagement with China and, more broadly, with the international community. Through the promotion of our members’ voices and dialogue with external organizations, European Guanxi will lead to the enrichment of China’s and Europe’s visions, as well as an understanding of the state of play and the direction EU-China relations should take.

How to join the organization?

European Guanxi offers two one-month periods each year in which those interested in joining our organization can apply to become members. These are March and September at the moment. The registration period is now open! If you would like to become a member of the organization, feel free to visit EG’s website: https://www.europeanguanxi.com/join.

Alternatively, if you want to keep up to date with the latest news from EG, you can subscribe to our newsletter or register and attend our various webinars.

Malvina Montini

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