Most notably, China has resisted European pressure to open its markets. Chinese protectionism is one factor behind both the EU's €156 billion trade deficit in goods in 2011, and the meagre level of trade in services (€43 billion) – a European strength – in the same year. China has done much less than the Europeans would have hoped to enforce intellectual property rights: 73 per cent of all fake goods seized at EU borders in 2011 were from China. And when it comes to traditional diplomacy, whether the EU asks the Chinese to act on a human rights case or to recalibrate their policy on Syria, they often stonewall.
Why does the world's biggest economic bloc have such little sway in China? The problem is not so much that EU governments are disunited over China policy, though sometimes they are. It is rather that they fail to understand that pooling their efforts through the EU would give them more clout. Furthermore, the EU fails to take a 'strategic' approach to China, in the sense of focusing on a small number of key objectives.