While the profile of China has been growing in Europe in recent years, COVID-19 has put the country at the center of the attention of both policymakers and the general public. Because of this shift, the role of public opinion may be more important than ever in orienting the strategic choices that the European Union (EU) faces in its China policy. However, we lack a systematic understanding of European attitudes toward China and the role that Chinese public diplomacy plays in shaping them. As such, this article addresses two research questions. First, what was the content and style of China’s public diplomacy in the EU during the pandemic? Second, what did European public opinion of China look like during the pandemic? To tackle these questions, we use a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods, including our own extensive public opinion data, to focus on ten representative EU member states. Through our research, we find a visible correlation between the intensity, style, and content of China’s public diplomacy in Europe during COVID-19 and European public opinion on China. Future research could further explore this link and try to establish and test the casual direction.


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pp. 5-33
Launched on MUSE
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