Skip to content
NUPI skole

Scientific article


The bear and the EU-China-US triangle: Transatlantic and Russian influences on EU’s “pivot to Asia”

Written by

Bjørnar Sverdrup-Thygeson
Former employee



This article argues that in the case of the EU’s efforts to undertake a “Pivot to Asia”, added explanatory salience can be achieved by recognising firstly the importance of the transatlantic factor and the US’ own rebalance policies. Secondly, based on a model where the USA is regarded as a significant variable in the EU-China relationship, one may more saliently discern the influence of Russia by assessing its impact on the triangular EU-China-US relationship, both directly and indirectly.

Addressing these issues in European policymaking, the article will be constituted of two main parts. In the first section, the triangular nature of European foreign policies towards China is introduced, addressing the transatlantic factor in EU-China relations. Based on research on the European policy debates on EU’s Asia policies and the American Pivot to Asia, the section will illustrate the degree to which EU policy initiatives are conceived as playing out on a range from cooperation to competition with the US’ rebalance initiatives. In the second section, the chapter will proceed to investigate a factor that is affecting, although to different degrees, all three corners of the triangular political context in which European China policies are being shaped, namely the effects of recent Russian actions in the Eurasian theatre. The analysis demonstrates how European policymakers struggle to define their place in the EU-China-US triangle. The dynamics of the ongoing Asian power shift highlights the dilemmas for the European continent, as it seeks to balance its relations in a shifting geopolitical landscape.
  • Published year: 2017
  • DOI: 10.1007/s10308-017-0472-7
  • Language: Engelsk
  • Pages: 161 - 172
  • Volume: 15
  • Booklet: 2
  • Journal: Asia Europe Journal : Intercultural Studies in the Social Sciences and Humanities


  • Trade
  • Europe
  • Russia and Eurasia
  • Asia
  • North America
  • The EU

Written by

Bjørnar Sverdrup-Thygeson
Former employee