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Yun-Chen Lai completes successful thesis defense

CGP PhD cadidate Yun-Chen Lai following her thesis defense. Image: Private.

CGP PhD cadidate Yun-Chen Lai following her thesis defense. Image: Private.

Center for Global Politics PhD candidate Yun-Chen Lai has successfully defended her thesis in front of academics this week.

News from Oct 16, 2015

Another one of our Center for Global Politics (CGP) students has continued along her path towards a PhD. Working with the CGP Graduate School, Chinese PhD candidate Yun-Chen Lai took part in her thesis defense this week. By all accounts this defense was very successful and she is now free to proceed with the final stages of her PhD.

As a student of International Relations, Yun-Chen Lai chose to deal with one of the most complex bilateral relationships in the world – that of the EU and the People’s Republic of China. Using her in-depth knowledge of both China and Europe, her thesis, entitled “Exploring the EU’s non-normative power: the Case of the EU’s foreign policy towards China”, explores this relationship with a significant amount of in-depth analysis.

Through an examination of the way in which the EU has shifted its economic policy over time, she has determined that a major change in this relationship occurred in 2006. After this point it was found that the EU’s economic objectives with China were separated from its other foreign policy objectives such as protecting Human Rights. In addition, following this point of divergence, EU attitudes towards China became more fearful, resulting in changes to their foreign policy behavior.

With this taken into consideration, Yun-Chen determined that the EU only functions as a normative-power (one that protects international norms) when it is in a position of relative strength. Once China began to be perceived as ‘rising’, this normative status declined.

Regarding the importance of her thesis, Yun Chen remarked:

“The European Union is a unique and distinct international actor in global politics. […] The EU's foreign policy towards China could help us to observe how the EU engages with powerful actors, who are in many aspects different from the European Union. From this case, we can better understand the so-called normative Europe."