Gunnar Wiegand is a visiting distinguished fellow in the Indo-Pacific program since November 2023. From 2016 to 2023, Wiegand served as the managing director for Asia and the Pacific at the European External Action Service (EEAS). In this function, Wiegand was a key contributor to the EU’s policy orientations on EU relations with China and India, the Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, Europe Asia Connectivity Policy (the precursor for the Global Gateway initiative), and enhanced security engagement with Indo-Pacific partners. He was also the EU's senior official for the Asia Europe meetings (ASEM) and EU-ASEAN relations. Among other tasks, he served as the EU's chief negotiator for the new EU-Japan Strategic Partnership Agreement. Prior to that, Wiegand served as EEAS director for Russia, Eastern Partnership, Central Asia, OSCE and Northern Dimension (2011–2015).

Wiegand held various senior positions at the European Commission, including director for Eastern Europe, Southern Caucasus, and Central Asia at DG RELEX (2008–2011), head of unit for Relations with Russia and the Northern Dimension at DG RELEX (2006–2008), head of unit for Relations with the United States and Canada (2003–2006), and spokesman for Lord Chris Patten, EU Commissioner for External Relations (1999–2002).

Wiegand holds a law degree from the University of Hamburg and a master’s degree in international relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC. He is a visiting professor at the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium, and the Paris School of International Affairs in Paris, France.

Media Mentions

“The EU’s approach to China will not see any big changes for now, after the elections, as the center parties will continue to become more realistic … [But] if Trump wins the U.S. election, the EU’s polarization on China policy is likely to grow,” said Gunnar Wiegand, a retired top EU diplomat on Asia, who’s now a fellow at the German Marshall Fund think tank.
But in Brussels, many will miss Buetikofer’s straight-shooting ways and a perspective on China that evolved over half a century. “Seen by many as a polariser, he was actually a consensus builder for a realistic China policy and, as such, appreciated by many in the EU institutions,” said Gunnar Wiegand, until last year the EU’s top diplomat on Asia.
China is not neutral as regards Russia’s war against Ukraine. It provides a lifeline to Russia’s economy, and in particular to its defence industry with its massive critical dual-use goods exports, supporting the war effort.
The problem for Europeans is that the Chinese are pursuing this ever more hostile, ever closer alignment with the Russians, because it serves them to have the Russians as a partner who is openly challenging and disruptive, while China at the same time wants to remain a very close economic and technological partner of the EU and the U.S. So China wants to have it both ways
There's always a risk of retaliation … However, it is something which should not dissuade anyone in the EU to make use of carefully designed instruments, which are all fully WTO-compatible.