On 22 January 2019, the Polish Institute for International Affairs (PISM) hosted a public lecture by Andrew A. Michta, dean of the College of International and Security Studies at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies. The event was dedicated to discussion of the U.S.–China rivalry and its impact on Europe. The lecture was opened by PISM Director Dr. Sławomir Dębski.
PISM’s guest started his speech by pointing out the reasons that have led to China’s growth and resulting confrontation with the United States. Among the main factors, he pointed to globalisation, which increased China’s share of the global economy, and the socio-economic reforms carried out even during the Cold War. Then, Dr. Michta raised China’s interests in Europe, pointing out first that Europe is becoming more and more connected with the Chinese economy, like Africa and South America in the past. Michta focused on China’s search in Europe for sources of technology it cannot legally acquire from the U.S. He also stressed the importance of Russia-China cooperation, which allows the former to rebuild its position as a strong regional power.
Michta also emphasized that Europe should invest in its own defence capabilities because in the event of a crisis in Asia, the U.S. will be forced to commit a large part of its resources to that region, with some withdrawn from the European continent. Then, he pointed out that the threat perception of China has risen within NATO, notably among Western countries, while in the Eastern Flank states, direct threat perception is of Russia. The speaker also noted that the economic and financial situation of the EU has never been better and European countries have the resources to deal with threats to their security without significant support from the United States. Because of this, the American administration finds no justification for European states to have diverging interests, igniting a conflict within the EU, or not fulling their obligations within NATO.
During the audience portion of the discussion, questions were asked about ways to strengthen transatlantic relations and the role of Central and Eastern Europe in this, the western perception of Turkey and its importance to European states and NATO, and about predictions of Russia’s possible next actions. The possibility of cooperation between the U.S. and Russia to limit China’s growing power was also discussed.