Is China perceived as a leader?  Case studies from Europe

October 18, 2:40-4:00 pm, M-RCBG Conference Room (Belfer 503)

Over the past decade, China has become central to the world economy. Building on its economic successes of the past forty years, ever since Deng Xiaoping launched its open-door policy in 1978, it is increasingly becoming central in world politics. Under Xi Jinping's leadership, it is also more assertive, willing to appear as a regional as well as a global power. Besides trade and foreign direct investments, China has also invested in soft power and political influence. Multiple reports on Chinese economic and political influence on all continents -including in the United States- have appeared recently, but few have addressed the question of China in Europe. From Eastern Europe to Southern Europe, all EU member-states have seen an increase in Chinese economic presence since the financial crisis of 2008. In some cases, it has translated into political influence as well. Meanwhile, in non-EU European countries such as Serbia which is working hard to attract foreign investments, China is gaining ground. Looking at recent surveys conducted across the region, this study group will focus on perceptions of China's economic rise in Europe, with a particular angle on Eastern Europe, Southern Europe and the Balkans. It will also ask whether China is looking at presenting itself as an alternative to the Western democratic model, including on the European continent.

Philippe Le Corre headshotPhilippe Le Corre is a Senior Fellow with the Harvard Kennedy School’s Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government. He is also an Associate in Research with the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard. From 2014 to 2017, he was a Visiting Fellow in the Foreign Policy Program at The Brookings Institution in Washington DC, specializing on China-Europe relations and China’s global rise. His career spans government, academia, media and business. He was Special Assistant for international affairs to the French defense minister, and also served as a Senior Policy Adviser on Asia within the Ministry of defense’s directorate for international relations and strategy. In the private sector, Mr. Le Corre worked as a partner with Publicis Consultants in Paris and Shanghai, where he ran a team of advisers to the Shanghai World Expo 2010 Organizing Committee. He previously worked in Asia as a foreign correspondent for nine years, and has published extensively on the region in The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, The South China Morning Post, The Straits Times, Politico, Le Monde, Les Echos and Foreign Affairs among others. He is the author or co-author of several books including China’s Offensive in Europe (Brookings Institution Press, 2016), Quand la Chine va au marché (Maxima, 1999) and Après Hong Kong (Autrement, 1997). He published several papers on China including China as a geoeconomic influencer: Four European Case Studies (Carnegie Working paper, October 2018); China’s rise: What about a transatlantic dialog? (Asia-Europe Journal, April 2017, co-authored with Jonathan Pollack) and China Abroad: The Long March to Europe (China Economic Quarterly, June 2016). Le Corre received his MSc in Asian Studies from the National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations (Inalco) in Paris and his MA in political science from the Sorbonne in Paris. He was a Fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard and a Sachs Scholar in 2003-2004. Mr. Le Corre will look at the perceptions of China’s geoeconomic and geopolitical expansion, especially in Europe and Central Asia. His faculty sponsor is Professor Anthony Saich. Email: