Questions of democracy, human rights and the rule of law have long been a source of tension in Europe’s relations with China, both in exchanges with China and among Europeans themselves. The European Union was in part built on a foundation of common political values, but member states are often at odds over the extent to which these values should constitute a central element of their respective relations with China. Under the leadership of Xi Jinping, China has become increasingly critical of Western political values and sought to position itself as a role model for other countries. In this context, the question of how to treat political values in relations with China only grows more relevant for Europe, as does the question of how China will seek to promote its own understanding of political values in Europe.

Through an analysis of 16 EU member states, Norway and the EU as an institution, this report sets out to examine how political values enter into Europe- China relations. It looks at how European actors treat political values in relations with China, and how China, directly or indirectly, shapes the debate on political values in Europe.