Brick factory in Kabul 2012 | © FotoGablitz

China’s ‘constructive involvement’ in Afghanistan: an alternative to Western peacebuilding?

The Western withdrawal from Afghanistan and the following collapse of the local government to the Taliban has left many international observers to ponder who might fill the resulting vacuum. Many eyes have turned to China, which had already engaged the Taliban in political dialogue, is open to formal recognition of the new regime, and is also one of its more plausible aid donors. Beijing has also increasingly touted an alternative to the Western program of liberal peace- and statebuilding that failed in Afghanistan, focused on developmental objectives and tying into Chinese strengths and interests especially under its global “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI).


Das Handelsabkommen zwischen der EU und dem Mercosur ist heftiger Kritik ausgesetzt, unter anderem auch dem Vor-wurf, die Rodungen im Gebiet des Amazonas-Regenwalds weiter zu befördern. | Photo: Flickr, quapan. | CC BY 2.0

Am seidenen Faden: Das Freihandelsabkommen zwischen der Europäischen Union (EU) und dem Mercosur

Zwanzig Jahre lang wurde das Freihandelsabkommen zwischen der EU und dem Mercosur verhandelt, im Juni 2019 wurde eine Einigung über den Handelsteil erzielt, doch die Ratifizierung lässt auf sich warten und steht aktuell unter keinem guten Stern. Trotz breiter Kritik sind zwar noch letzte Hoffnungsschimmer ersichtlich, insgesamt weisen die aktuellen Entwicklungen jedoch in Richtung des Scheiterns.


Growing closeness in times of social distancing? European leaders and Xi Jinping during the videoconference that sealed the EU-China investment agreement. | Photo: © European Union, 2020 / EC - Audiovisual Service / Photographer: Lukasz Kobus | Free use.

The EU-China Investment Agreement: a sign of political naïveté or strategic autonomy?

The recently-concluded EU-China Investment Agreement has attracted severe criticism, with many commenters focusing specifically on the supposed naïveté of concluding a separate agreement with China instead of pursuing a joint approach together with the incoming Biden administration. However, this approach is in line with the EU’s stated desire to achieve a greater strategic autonomy, and in fact a sensible reaction to the uncertainty that has marked international politics since the Trump era.