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Title: EU-China relations : identities, interests and interactions
Author: Zhang, Yiming
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis explores EU-China relations from the perspective of identity. The research question is how, and to what extent, does identity influence the relationship? Dominant theoretical approaches in analysing this relations make mistakes by taking the actors’ interests as given. In contrast, this thesis applies a constructivist approach and argues that interests are constructed by actors’ identities. The hypothesis of this research is that it is identity which plays a decisive role in the EU-China relationship. The concept of identity mainly consists of two elements: type identity and role identity. Type identity explains the inner qualities of the actors, and contributes to understand the actors’ characteristics, preferences, and the way they perceive others. Role identity outlines the dynamics between the actors, and illustrates their behavioural patterns in the relevant dynamics. Through these functions, identity defines the interests of the actors and thereby shapes their behaviour in these interactions. In order to build a comprehensive understanding of the EU’s and China’s sophisticated mechanism in decision-making, the thesis begins by discussing the EU’s and China’s nature as international actors. In spite of the complexity of the their institutions and internal actors, the thesis argues that it is valid to study their relationship at the EU level. By laying out the type identities of the EU and China from the four aspects of political regime, strategies, values and economies, the thesis establishes the inner qualities of the two actors, and shows what kind of powers they are in these realms. The findings are critical to understand the actors’ preferences and cognitive model. Through a historical overview of the bilateral relationship from 1975 to 2012, the thesis explores the EU and China’s role identities, and illustrates how the relationship has been changed as a result of variations of the role identities. The case study focuses on the arms embargo negotiation that had taken place between 2003 and 2005. The case study demonstrates a clash among multiple identities, and shows how the identities determined the process and the results of the negotiation, which verifies the decisive influence of identity in the interaction among actors. This research contributes to providing a distinct perspective to studies of EU-China relations by applying identity in the analysis. It presents an alternative perspective from which to analyse EU-China relations by focusing on ‘what the actors are’ and ‘what they are in each other’s eyes’. Moreover, it makes a major contribution to studies of EU-China relations by consulting and explaining considerable Chinese language materials in a way that has not been done previously.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: JC Political theory ; JZ International relations