The EU’s promotion of human rights and democracy in the times of economic crisis became an unpopular topic. When the budgetary deficits increase, the politicians have no time for ideas or can easily prioritise spending related to the economic needs of their country, while idealistic goals seem less urgent. This way of thinking prevails in media and public opinion.
This study looks at the evolution of EU policies for democracy promotion towards China from the late 1980s. It divides the past three decades into the three periods according to the means employed by the EU with respect to China in order to realize this goal. It demonstrates that EU’s practice in this area developed over time according to the changing international environment and evolving relations between the two partners rather than followed a great strategy. It argues that the EU’s promotion of democracy with respect to China should not be understood as choice of values over commercial considerations but its assessment has to take into account much broader framework of EU-China relations, role of both actors in the world as well as different historical and socio-political background conditioning their attitudes towards democracy and democracy promotion.