The rise of China and the need for cross- border governance in Europe’s borderlands
The rise of China and East Asia With its Lisbon Strategy from the year 2000, the European Union aimed to become the world’s most competitive and dynamic economic area. Between 1995 and 2004, economic growth in the EU 27 was 2.4 per cent (European Commission 2007: 178; European Communities 2007). Although China’s GDP is only about one-quarter of the European average, in recent years it has enjoyed an average annual growth of about 10 per cent, accompanied by massive industrialization and creation of jobs. Regional disparities are significant in both Europe and China. While the GDP of Europe’s strongest region is eight times that of the weakest region, in China the disparity is a factor of seven. In contrast, regional disparities in the US are far less significant: there the factor is 2.5 (Deutsche Botschaft Peking 2006; European Commission 2007: 5; Pilny 2005). China and East Asia are still big markets for European exports of technology and know-how – but for how long? Furthermore, a rail connection between East Asia and Europe might provide quicker and cheaper transportation than today’s sea link. It is possible that in the near future trains will cover the distance between China and Europe in 12 days, while the sea link currently takes 40. This will boost the exchange of goods and accelerate the process of globalization (Indo-Burma News 2007; MacWilliam 2004). Instead of achieving the aims of the Lisbon Strategy, Europe’s economic growth continues to disappoint, while at the same time East Asia, in particular, has developed massively to become one of the most prosperous economic areas in the world.