China-EU Relations: Broader, Higher and Stronger

Written by H.E. Ambassador Yang Yanyi, Head of the Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the European Union

H.E. Ambassador Yang Yanyi, Head of the Mission of the People's Republic of China to the European Union

H.E. Ambassador Yang Yanyi, Head of the Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the European Union

The year 2014 was a year of bumper harvest for China’s diplomacy as we made significant progress in both diplomatic philosophy and practice. China took a proactive approach in developing its relations with Europe while ensuring continuity and stability. Building on what we have achieved in the past, we had a lot to celebrate in 2014.

It was a year of new vision for China-EU relations. During his historic visit to the EU last spring, President Xi Jinping proposed to build a China-EU partnership for peace, growth, reform and civilisation and thus bridge the Chinese Dream and the European one. In his meeting and phone conversation with the new EU leadership, President Xi reiterated the direction and vision for China-EU relations, which were well received by the EU side.

It was a year of increased cooperation on a higher level. The two sides launched over 70% of the initiatives identified in the China-EU 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation. Trade between China and the EU exceeded US$615 billion, an increase of 9.9% year-on-year. Chinese investment in the EU reached US$9.41 billion in the first 11 months of 2014, a nearly three-fold increase. China-EU cooperation has moved further ahead not just in quantitative but also qualitative terms. The partnership for civilization has begun to take root in people’s mind. Thanks to the second meeting of the China-EU High-Level People-to-People Dialogue, cultural and people-to-people exchanges have become ever more vibrant, with 6 million people travelling between China and EU countries last year. China and the EU had a good track record of communication and coordination on the Iranian nuclear issue, climate change, international trade negotiations and other important global and regional affairs.

It was also a year witnessing fresh progress in resolving differences between China and the EU. In 2014, we resolved trade frictions properly, signalling to the international community our determination against trade protectionism and our commitment to settling disputes via dialogue and consultation. China has engaged in in-depth dialogue with the EU on human rights in a spirit of equality and seeking common ground while shelving difference. This has helped the EU understand and appreciate China’s views on human rights, its achievements as well as its commitment to the rule of law. We have increasingly come to a consensus on the need to take a long-term and holistic approach, increase mutual trust through candid dialogue and remove impediments as we work together to develop bilateral relations. 

2015 is an important year for both China and the EU. China will continue to advance reform and rule of law across the board, while the new EU leadership will work to promote growth and create jobs. Together, we will celebrate the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties, commemorate with the rest of the world the 70th anniversary of the victory against fascism and shape the post-2015 development agenda.

To build a new type of international relationship based on cooperation for mutual benefit, China and the EU will make the most of the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties and deepen mutual understanding and respect for their visions through China-EU Summit, High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue, Strategic Dialogue and People-to-People Dialogue. We will support each other as we take the path of peaceful development and grow our relations in a robust, steady and sound manner. We will work together to promote a global strategic culture featuring non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation and make it a prominent rule governing international relations.

To pursue common development of China, the EU and the rest of the world, we will continue to implement the China-EU 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation, advancing in particular negotiations over a bilateral investment agreement. We will strengthen cooperation in travel facilitation, high-tech, infrastructure, energy, transportation and business in an effort to build a Eurasia market. We will enhance our communication and coordination in G20, IMF, World Bank and other multilateral fora. By greater and better cooperation, we will offer each other more opportunities for development and drive economic growth on the Eurasian continent and globally.

To uphold world peace and development as well as international justice and post-WWII order, China will work with the EU and the wider international community to firmly oppose any attempts to whitewash history. We will work together to shape the post-2015 development agenda that serves the interests of all, particularly developing countries. We will intensify communication and coordination as we address terrorism, proliferation and climate change.

Confucius says, at the age of 40, one will no longer suffer from perplexities. After 40 years, China-EU relations have grown more mature and vibrant with broad prospects. I am confident that with our concerted efforts, the China-EU Comprehensive Strategic Partnership will deliver even greater success and contribute more to world peace, stability and prosperity.

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