For almost the entire past decade, China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been the most prominent example of a geo-economic strategy implemented by a global actor in the name of “connectivity”. Through this ambitious programme, the PRC’s leadership has been enacting its vision to develop its power potential by growing its influence across Eurasia and beyond. Drivers of this vision of Eurasian economic expansion for China’s sake are explicit. This is less so with regard to security ambitions. Still, the multiple dimensions of EU-China connectivity entail specific and dynamic security challenges requiring dedicated attention. Indeed, fragmentation of European cohesion and unbalanced economic relations have increasingly enabled China to grow its power, influence and presence on our continent. Forced to react, the EU has been working on a coordinated stance, albeit slow and piecemealed at first, aimed at responding to China’s instruments and political objectives on the continent in terms of connectivity, investments and flow security. Building on the achievements of the 2018 EU-Asia Connectivity Strategy, the new Global Gateway investment scheme, announced on 1 December 2021 and developed to boost sustainable links, is the latest development in this regard.

Challenges are considerable and manifold. So are questions and doubts: what does the growing importance of connectivity mean for the future of EU-China relations? What are the security challenges it entails? How can we assess the tools and instruments mobilised by the EU as a response to China’s BRI? What are the limitations and how can they be overcome?

In order to discuss these critical strategic issues, we have invited Dr Jonathan HOLSLAG, professor of international politics and noted China specialist at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), and Dr Francesca GHIRETTI, European China policy analyst at the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS, Berlin), who will present their respective views on the security implications of EU-China relations in the light of connectivity in the current global context.

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Research lines: Europe ; Eurasia

Source: EU-China leaders’ meeting – September 2020 (

Online evening conference

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the security dimension of EU-China connectivity

Prof. Dr Jonathan HOLSLAG
Dr Francesca GHIRETTI

Moderator : Nicolas GOSSET

Language: English

27 January 2022, 17:00 – 18:30
> From 16:30 – Registration –
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