Opinion Former Video

The State of US-Europe Relations

Based on a recent simulation, the US and Americas Programme at Chatham House has found that Europe could have the soft power tools needed to avoid the outbreak of conflict in the Asia-Pacific region between continental neighbours Japan and China.


The potential for conflict over competing Japanese and Chinese territorial claims in the East China Sea is a cause of anxiety in both the US and Europe, despite their different approaches to Asia.

While Europe sees itself as a small player in this theatre, the US - a pacific power - is much more active and engaged in Asian affairs as a result of alliances and its assets in the region.

However, Europe can have an impact. In a recent simulation, Chatham House modelled a prospective conflict in the Asia-Pacific between Japan and China. It found that Europe has the potential to exert real influence that could help prevent escalation.

Our research shows that many European players remain unaware of the extent of this influence.

Europe has leverage in the form of assets in the region, diplomatic ties, development aid and trade deals. These are largely soft power tools, but they are means by which Europe can exercise influence in the region.

Equally, Europeans are unaware of the role Asian actors play closer to home, such as Japanese sanctions against Russia and its provision of strong financial backing for Syrian stabilisation.

The importance of stability in the Asia-Pacific spreads far beyond the region’s boundaries and to every corner of the globe.

Its importance should be reflected in the way Europe involves itself in Asian affairs.

Playing a more active role would be a wise investment.

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