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The conference, at RUSI’s Whitehall building, brought together more than 65 attendees from academia, industry, the military and various parliamentarians. Speakers from across Europe, Asia and the US examined whether Europe had an appetite to become embroiled in Asian security, and if so in what way.
The conference began by covering the discussion in both the EU in Brussels and separately in various European capitals over whether to view China through a security prism or an economic one. The concept for the conference followed other discussions with EU leaders and European policymakers (as well as those from the Pacific region) and proposed that the EU had neither a voice nor interest in the Asia-Pacific region in terms of crisis management. Contrary to this, the economic interests and trade dependency of the EU on China was clear. For the EU, therefore, economics trumps values.
The conference limited discussions largely to events that might trigger deployment of military platforms, personnel and capabilities to the region from European states. Diplomatic protests or economic sanctions were discussed briefly, but largely discounted because of the trade imbalances and the lack of impact from such policies on China or North Korea.
The conference did not come to any clear conclusions regarding an EU approach to China, but noted that individual states had an appetite to undertake interventions in the Pacific, and that some key triggers would result in militarised response.