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8 - Civil Protection: Identifying Opportunities for Collaboration

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 September 2016

Han Dorussen
Affiliation:
University of Essex
Ling Jin
Affiliation:
China Institute of International Studies
Evangelos Fanoulis
Affiliation:
Metropolitan University, Prague
Emil J. Kirchner
Affiliation:
University of Essex
Thomas Christiansen
Affiliation:
Universiteit Maastricht, Netherlands
Han Dorussen
Affiliation:
University of Essex
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Summary

The protection of civilians against natural and man-made disasters has increasingly become a governmental responsibility. Urbanization, industrialization and globalization have highlighted vulnerabilities to “natural disasters, industrial or transportation accidents, terror attacks, critical infrastructure failures, or a ‘near miss’ of one of these” (ANVIL n.d.). Befittingly, civil protection has become a salient security issue for the European Union as well as China. Yet, as will be argued below, this increased prominence has only led to a partial convergence in policy responses. Notable differences remain in the understanding of the nature of (the) security threats, the allocation of responsibilities and the general approach to civil protection.

In the EU, civil protection is progressively a transnational policy area, whereas in China it is largely still developing as a national policy area. At the same time, civil protection is a policy area where some convergence can be observed. China has developed a broader nontraditional understanding of civil protection and the role of the military has become less pronounced. China's capabilities in civil protection have also strengthened so it is better able and more willing to respond to external and transboundary crises. Agreement on the need to respond to specific crises – and mutual interest in effective responses – creates space for collaboration, which so far has been limited to mainly technical matters. Arguably, civil protection is an area where there are clear opportunities to build trust and to broaden the scope of collaboration.

Civil protection is commonly referred to as civil security, civil (air) defense and crisis management. These related concepts reveal subtle differences in the understanding of the nature of (in)security addressed in civil protection. The Chinese distinction between renfang (civil air defense) and minfang (civil defense) shows the origins of civil protection against air raids as well as a more recent broader understanding of civil protection. In Europe, civil protection developed under the shadow of the Cold War, but it has evolved strongly from the predominantly traditional security domain (for example, nuclear attacks) to the largely nontraditional one (for example, natural disasters such as earthquakes and flooding, but also industrial accidents). The EU has combined responsibilities for civil protection and humanitarian aid in one Directorate-General of the EU Commission (the Directorate-General for Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid, DG ECHO), illustrating a broad nontraditional interpretation.

Type
Chapter
Information
Security Relations between China and the European Union
From Convergence to Cooperation?
, pp. 145 - 166
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2016

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