China in the balance?

Development Policy29 May 2007Ellen Lammers

China has an increasingly influential voice in global issues such as world trade, conflict management, energy supply security and sustainable development. In June 2006, the Netherlands government presented a policy memorandum, Shaping a Relationship for Bilateral Cooperation with China, 2006–2010, to the House of Representatives. The government also asked the Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV) to examine the significance of China’s growing prominence on the world stage and its implications for Dutch foreign policy. The AIV report, China in the Balance: Towards a Mature Relationship, was published in May 2007.1

Given the politically destabilizing potential of China’s internal social problems, and the uncertainty about whether China will develop internationally into a ‘responsible stakeholder’, the AIV advises that ‘hedged integration’ should guide Dutch policy on China. The report also notes that the current system of global governance needs to be gradually revised in order to include China in the G8 and to strengthen its position within the IMF and the World Bank. The Netherlands should not resist the inevitable redistribution of established power that this implies. Dutch efforts to expand mutual cooperation – focusing on contributing to social stability in China while taking into account Dutch (business) interests – can best be undertaken through international institutions, especially the EU. The AIV’s most notable advice – the Dutch government should advocate lifting the EU’s arms embargo against China.


  1. AIV (2007) China in the Balance: Towards a Mature Relationship, Advisory report 55 (English summary). Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV).
    Full report (in Dutch): Met het oog op China: Op weg naar een volwassen relatie, Advies no. 55.