Consortium Leader: Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’
Consortium Member: The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)

Europe's Indo-Pacific embrace

Submitted by Inge on Thu, 09/23/2021 - 14:25

Global partnerships for regional resilience

This report has previously been published by Perth USAsia Centre and Konrad Adenauer Foundation. Senior Research Fellow Maaike Okano-Heijmans has contributed chapter 4 on the Dutch approach to the Indo-Pacific. 

The Indo-Pacific’s centrality to 21st century geopolitics has long been recognised by those in the region. However, as the Indo-Pacific evolves economically and strategically, its importance is increasingly recognised by those outside the region, whose desires for global prosperity and security demand closer engagement with Indo-Pacific dynamics. Foremost amongst these are European governments.

Understanding how European and Indo-Pacific actors will interact with the region is vital to all concerned. There is a need for increased knowledge of where European and Indo-Pacific interests are best-placed to cooperate with one another, on which issues, and through which channels.

This report seeks to locate Europe within the 21st Century Indo-Pacific, analysing how European governments can most effectively engage with Indo-Pacific partners. It highlights the Indo-Pacific approaches of five European powers: the EU, France, Germany, Netherlands and the UK, and how these approaches intersect with those of Japan, Australia, India, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and the United States.

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Maaike Okano-Heijmans, Senior Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute


Promoting open and inclusive connectivity

Submitted by Inge on Thu, 09/16/2021 - 18:03

The case for digital development cooperation

This paper has previously been published by Elsevier.

A focus on digital development cooperation as a cornerstone in Europe’s digital connectivity agenda offers opportunities to act on long-term challenges and addresses several key priorities identified by the European Commission in third countries. This article develops an argument for strengthening Europe’s agenda on digital development cooperation, specifically in the Indo-Pacific region. After first conceptualizing digital development cooperation, we argue that the key reasons for the EU to step up its digital development efforts in the Indo-Pacific region are the societal impact of disruptive technologies; the power shift towards the Indo-Pacific; the expanding clout of the Chinese Digital Silk Road; and the implications of the US-China tech conflict. The EU’s 2030 Digital Compass provides an ideal framework to envision the digital development cooperation initiatives of European and Asian players. The EU can benefit from cooperation and coordination with like-minded partners in the Indo-Pacific.

Read full article here.


Maaike Okano-Heijmans, Senior Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute


Will the European hero please stand up?

Submitted by Inge on Thu, 03/25/2021 - 14:49

An essay on European global narrative strategy

A more strategic European narrative is called for. That is, European leaders should more actively engage with the stories they tell and are being told about Europe’s place in the world. This essay problematises the EU global narrative in order to define ways it can be made more competitive in today’s geopolitical discursive arena. It juxtaposes aspects of the European narrative with the discursive moves of China, in order to synthesise elements of a new global narrative for Europe that provides a common sense of purpose with third countries, and that is both competitive and timely. It answers three distinct questions:

  • How does the European global narrative currently function?
  • Which aspects of the European global narrative are put under pressure by its discursive competition with China?
  • And how can EU institutions and European member states contribute to a stronger global narrative strategy?

This essay argues that European leaders should embrace the language of particularism, letting go of universalist value narratives. The European Way of Life is a potentially powerful but underused narrative, through which European leaders can more forcefully explain the existential worth of human rights, democracy and rule of law to Europe. It must dare to speak the language of history, using the ancient civilisational roots of European society as a treasured resource for projecting powerful stories. This means casting as our hero ‘Europe’ the ancient civilisation, rather than the EU as a young political project. The costs of strategic autonomy ought to be explained as the collective sacrifices needed to protect European values. It would be wise to recognise that European society itself is a hero forged out of hegemonic struggle in order to overcome it. It has little need of enemies, but must emphasise time and again the costs of giving in to our own vices.

Read the full essay (longread). 


Ties Dams (Research Fellow, the Clingendael Institute)

Monika Sie Dhian Ho (General Director, the Clingendael Institute)


Dealing with China on High-Tech Issues

Submitted by Inge on Tue, 12/22/2020 - 15:25

Views from the US, EU and like-minded countries in a changing geopolitical landscape. 

As President-Elect Joe Biden enters the White House, what are the opportunities for EU–US cooperation in the trade, high-tech and digital domains? Together with like-minded partners, the transatlantic partners aim for deepened and renewed engagement in the bilateral and multilateral context. They need to deliver on broadening multilateralism to new areas and, in certain cases, new approaches.

This Clingendael Report aims to contribute to a reorientation of the EU in the broad field of economic security, in the transatlantic context and with Japan, India and Australia.

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Maaike Okano-Heijmans (Senior Research Fellow, the Clingendael Institute)

Brigitte Dekker (Junior Researcher, the Clingendael Institute)



Europe’s Digital Decade?

Submitted by Inge on Wed, 10/21/2020 - 13:47

Navigating the global battle for digital supremacy 

On 16 September 2020, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen set a clear goal for the European Union (EU) and its member states: We must make this ‘Europe’s Digital Decade’

Aiming to contribute to improved European policy-making, this report discusses (best) practices of Asian countries and the United States in the field of digital connectivity. It covers a wide range of topics related to digital regulation, the e-economy, and telecommunications infrastructure.

Findings show that the EU and its member states are slowly but steadily moving from being mainly a regulatory power to also claiming their space as a player in the digitalized economy. Cloud computing initiative GAIA-X is a key example, constituting a proactive alternative to American and Chinese Cloud providers. Such initiatives, including also the more recent Next Generation Internet (NGI), are a necessity to push European digital norms and standards, but also assist the global competitiveness of European companies and business models.

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Brigitte Dekker (Junior Researcher at the Clingendael Institute)

Maaike Okano-Heijmans (Senior Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute)

This report complements the July 2020 report Unpacking the Digital Silk Road, which analysed Chinese efforts in the digital domain, and the May 2020 policy brief Digital connectivity going global: The case for digital Official Development Assistance (ODA).

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Adjusting the Multilateral System to Safeguard Dutch Interests

Submitted by Inge on Wed, 09/30/2020 - 10:21

This study attempts to shed light on the demise of multilateralism and the consequences for the Netherlands. It explains the changing nature of multilateralism and its value for the Netherlands and considers its future. Preserving the multilateral system requires understanding the value of multilateralism. It also entails developing a new approach to international cooperation. Therefore, the study proposes a new narrative to justify efforts to maintain, strengthen, and adapt the multilateral system. In a series of Annexes, the study explores in detail the challenges facing multilateral organizations that are especially important to the Netherlands: the World Trade Organization (WTO), the UN Security Council (UNSC), and the UN’s human rights bodies.

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Click here for the Dutch summary.


Rob de Wijk, Jack Thompson, and Esther Chavannes (HCSS)


Contributors: Tim Sweijs, Jelle van der Weerd, Irina Patrahau, and Conor MacNamara (HCSS)


Unpacking China’s Digital Silk Road

Submitted by Inge on Mon, 07/27/2020 - 13:41

Aiming to contribute to a better understanding of China’s Digital Silk Road (DSR) and its implications for Europe, this Clingendael Report analyses the concept, objectives and activities of the digital subset of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. China Standards 2035 (a blueprint to set global standards for the next generation of technologies), as well as Beijing’s cybersecurity law and push for digital sovereignty, call attention to the DSR’s normative dimensions. China’s moves in the digital domain warrant closer scrutiny.

The European Union and its member states need to act on the DSR’s economic and normative challenges to European industrial competitiveness and European ideas about digital sovereignty, individual privacy, a data-driven society and free flows of data.

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Brigitte Dekker (Junior Researcher at the Clingendael Institute)

Maaike Okano-Heijmans (Senior Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute)


China’s invloed op onderwijs in Nederland

Submitted by Inge on Tue, 07/07/2020 - 10:58

De bevindingen van dit verkennend onderzoek leiden tot de conclusie dat er sprake is van politieke beïnvloeding door China in hoger onderwijs en wetenschap in Nederland. Er zijn geen aanwijzingen gevonden voor beïnvloeding op scholen in het voortgezet onderwijs die samenwerken met de twee Confucius Instituten in Nederland.

De mate waarin en de manier waarop politieke beïnvloeding in het hoger onderwijs plaatsvindt loopt per sector, doelgroep, en deelactiviteit uiteen. Politieke beïnvloeding vindt vooral plaats in de vorm van het (indirect) aanzetten tot zelfcensuur bij onderzoekers, beleidsmedewerkers bij universiteiten, studenten, en bij medewerkers of directeuren van academische uitgeverijen die met of in China werken. Het gaat hierbij niet alleen om zelfopgelegde beperkingen ten aanzien van vrije meningsuiting, maar ook ten aanzien van de keuze van onderwerpen voor onderzoek. Daarnaast hebben onderzoekers en uitgeverijen te maken met censuur van publicaties van wetenschappelijk werk. Ook waar het gaat om het uitvoeren van wetenschappelijk onderzoek over China, of in en met China, vindt beïnvloeding plaats, bijvoorbeeld door beperking van onderzoeksmogelijkheden.

De politieke beïnvloeding door China in het hoger onderwijs en de wetenschap in Nederland heeft twee brede gevolgen: het leidt tot een aantasting van de Nederlandse kennispositie met betrekking tot China, en tot aantasting van de kwaliteit van onderzoek over China en van onderzoek op andere gebieden dat (deels) in of met China wordt uitgevoerd.

De auteurs

Ingrid d'Hooghe (Senior Research Associate bij Instituut Clingendael)

Brigitte Dekker (Junior Researcher bij Instituut Clingendael)


Globalization Paradox and the Coronavirus pandemic

Submitted by Inge on Tue, 06/02/2020 - 13:33

The global scale of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and its response is unprecedented. This Clingendael Report applies Dani Rodrik’s framework of Globalization’s political trilemma to analyze the current response to the pandemic. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis he argued that any recovery measures would have to balance off state power with economic integration and democracy. Based on values of democratic governance and human dignity this report charts principles on how to move forward beyond the emergency phase into recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The report makes a plea to Dutch and European policymakers for safeguarding and upholding democratic values in the response to and recovery of the Covid-19 emergency. The political trilemma indicates that a renewed primacy of state sovereignty, combined with hyper-globalization being on the defense, requires political resistance and bold choices to uphold democratic governance principles for the urgent and difficult policy actions required during the recovery.

The momentum is now to act and uphold a united European solidarity response and leadership. If the EU fails to do so, it risks disintegration and marginalization in a volatile multi-polar global order. Covid-19 is not merely a ‘crisis’ that will pass by. This is a new permanence that requires a redefinition of the European social contract while recognizing its interconnectedness with the rest of world.

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The author

Remco van de Pas (Senior Research Associate at the Clingendael Institute)

Graffiti / Unsplash

Presence before power

Submitted by Inge on Tue, 06/02/2020 - 13:27

When, in 2018, the People’s Republic of China published its first Arctic strategy, claiming that the Middle Kingdom is a ‘near-Arctic state’, many a snigger could be heard throughout the world of Arctic diplomacy. Yet, it is quickly becoming clear that China has built a geostrategic presence in the Arctic that is not to be sniggered at. It is already reshaping circumpolar politics in fundamental ways. Therefore, this Clingendael report aims to answer the following questions:

  • What are the long-term drivers behind China’s growing presence in the Arctic?
  • How is China currently shaping Arctic relations?
  • How should Europe and the Netherlands engage with China’s growing presence in the Arctic?

China’s Arctic strategy, in particular as it materialises in Iceland and Greenland, leads us to conclude that China’s growing presence in the Arctic is not a direct threat to European countries but rather a long-term strategic issue of great importance, but not great urgency.

Above all, China shows the power of presence by claiming a seat at the table in the Arctic Council and by investing in strategic sectors and diplomatic relations with Arctic states. Europe's challenge will be to re-engage with Iceland and Greenland, and China's presence there, in a similar multi-layered way, coordinating short-, medium- and long-term strategies.

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The author

Ties Dams (Research fellow at the Clingendael Institute)

Louise van Schaik (Head of Unit EU & Global Affairs/ Senior Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute)

Adája Stoetman (Junior Researcher at the Clingendael Institute)