EU-China relations have been tested recently, not least with regards to a controversial EU carbon tax on airlines flying through European airspace. The tax has been resisted by China and others (including India), who argue that the EU has exceeded its jurisdiction by applying the full tax on flights that are only partly in its airspace. For its part, EU leaders are frustrated with the slow progress being made internationally in terms of cutting aviation greenhouse emissions. Analysts warn that, if the EU does not back down, there is a risk of a trade war developing as China retaliates (see, for example, the recent suspension of orders for new European-manufactured airplanes by China). If, as many predict, China’s rise heralds a new multipolar world order, do European policy-makers and citizens understand this new reality?

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