France’s pivot to Asia: The model to follow?

As international attention continues to shift to the East, France has launched a 'pivot to Asia', encouraging Chinese investment while improving other bilateral ties. François Godement and Jonathan Fenby discuss whether this is a viable model for the rest of the EU, and how China will react to European relations with other regional actors. 


François Godement, Head, Asia and China programme, ECFR

Jonathan Fenby, Managing Director, Trusted Sources Research Service



Amidst the continued global effort to incur favours with China, France has launched an Asia-wide initiative in an attempt to halt declining trade figures and improve its overall leverage with the region. While Paris continues to compete with other EU countries for Chinese inward investment, it is also attempting to correct an excessive focus on China by encouraging closer bilateral ties with the rest of the region. Is the French model for engagement with Asia an example for the rest of the Union? As this policy is driven by national interests, how can it be reconciled with European interests? And how will China respond to this potential new area of pivoting away from the 'Middle Kingdom'?

François Godement is the head of the Asia and China programme at ECFR and a research associate at Asia Centre. He is also a professor at Sciences Po and a consultant to the policy planning staff of the French foreign ministry and to the OECD and the EU. He is the author of several publications, including France's “pivot” to Asia (2014).

Jonathan Fenby is a former editor of The Observer and South China Morning Post, and a founding partner and managing director of Trusted Sources Research Service. He is the author of several popular books on China, including Will China Dominate the 21st Century? (2014) and Tiger Head, Snake Tails (2013).