This week amidst the turbulent environment of the EU/Greek crisis, Brussels offered sufficient clues showing that the EU will face the Greek issue rapidly and will go on. China-EU investment relations are increasingly on the spotlight lately and this week culminated with the development of the 17th China-EU Summit and the 10th EU-China Business Summit and on side-events like the 5th Europe-China Forum. The Sting was there to report how the economic relations of the two major world economies are flourishing and changing the globe as we know it today.
10th China-EU Business Summit
The much awaited 10th EU-China Business Summit took place in Palais d’ Egmont in Brussels last Monday 29 June 2015. The high level summit, organised by BUSINESSEUROPE, hosted two top political personalities from China and EU, the Chinese Premier, Mr Li Keqiang and the President of the European Commission, Mr Jean-Claude Juncker. The two leaders were accompanied by a strong delegation of China’s strongest industries, banks and entrepreneurs together with the creme of the European business respectively. The main conference room in Egmont Palace was transformed in a discussion platform where the two sides were seated opposite to each other exchanging views and ideas about a stronger co-operation.
While the Summit hosted several important thematic sessions, from investment cooperation to sustainable growth and digital transformation, the attention was gathered around Mr Keqiang’s and Mr Juncker’s stimulating speeches that steered the China-EU business dialogue.
“China is welcome to invest”
President Juncker started his speech with a few hours of delay because of some breaking evolutions in the Greek crisis earlier the morning of last Monday. In a warm tone he welcomed the Chinese Premier and the top political and business delegations from China that came to Brussels just for the Summit. Mr Juncker opened his speech by saying: “I am a great admirer of China, I have been always admiring the accomplishments of the country”. He further stressed the importance of building a solid partnership between China and EU.
The President of the European Commission recognised that China and EU maintain one of the world’s biggest trading relationships, with more than 1 billion euros value of goods being traded every day and overall half a trillion euros in 2014. The former Prime Minister of Luxembourg went on underlining the interdependence of the two economies in various topics from international security and environmental protection to academic excellence. Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the China-EU relations, Mr Juncker declared that “the EU is a strong and reliable partner to China. We can learn from one another”.
“We can do great things together”
China One Belt One Road partnership is a “big opportunity”, Mr Juncker emphasised last Monday. He also mentioned the new connectivity platform that the two sides are currently launching, combining strength and expertise to create new infrastructure and new bridges and roads between the two economies.
The Luxembourgeois top EU official soon came down to the hot topic of investments. He referred to the Commission’s investment plan and the urgent need for substantial investments in the Old Continent, as the “investment of the German private sector has decreased significantly”. He went on claiming that “China is welcome to invest” and that the two parties will continue their intensive negotiations for a comprehensive investment agreement.
“I don’t want to lecture China”
Towards the end of his speech the President Juncker did not omit to open the Climate Change dossier, calling China to take measures for sustainable growth. He elaborated on the matter like this: “Your reforms will have great repercussions beyond your borders as well. We are working together. We have learned that being ambitious on climate change pays off. EU has reduced its emissions by 40%. China’s commitment is evidence that we are on the same page…Economy and environment go hand by hand”.
“Your efforts are a success” the EU President continued. “China and EU recognise that it is not about this generation; it’s the next generation. Climate change is one of the many areas that we collaborate as friends”. Mr Juncker closed his address by arguing about climate change: “I don’t want to lecture China; We are lecturing the entire world”.
“Europe needs to be united, strong and unified”
China’s Premier, Mr Li Keqiang, took the floor right after President Juncker. He chose to refer to the EU/Greek crisis first of all. Mr Keqiang stated “Europe needs to be united, strong and unified”. The Chinese leader wisely reminded to the EU that “the Greek debt issue is an internal affairs one in the EU, but the issue whether Greece stays in the euro not only concerns the EU but the stability and recovery of the whole world”.
Mr Keqiang soon called the EU to take the responsibility to come to an agreement with the Greeks immediately: “China and Greece is part of the relation between China and Europe. On the hope we would like to see Greece staying in the Eurozone we urge the international creditors to reach an agreement with the Greeks, make positive progress in the field for both Greece and EU. China is a true friend of Greece and the EU.”
China-EU 40 years
The Chinese Premier went on: “Between China and EU we have profound economic relations. It is an important player in Global Political arena. China-EU 40 years…benefits to our people”. “When you look at the 40 years of our relations, there are precious experiences. We are aware of the difference between us. For 40 years we always treated each other as equals. There are no clashes of fundamental interests between the two sides”, the Chinese top politician explained.
He further mentioned: “China-EU Relations serve as a stabiliser for the stability of the world. Europe has offered many advanced technologies, which is an important basis for Europe”. Consequently, referring to President Juncker’s words, Mr Keqiang stressed: “President Juncker said that many people are not aware of the size figure of the China-EU trade. So, the annual trade between the two sides was 600 billion dollars last year”. Remaining at the topic of the EU-China 40 year anniversary, Mr Keqiang said that “even though the world economic recovery faces difficult times, this is an enormous contribution to the whole world. The Chinese and European civilisations are very close”.
“70 flights between China and Europe every day”
“I value very much how close our people to people interaction is”, declared Mr Keqiang. He later emphasised the fact that China and EU have gotten very close by stating that every day 70 flights between China and EU connect the two continents. 100 million Chinese people travel abroad and Europe is number one destination in the agenda, the Chinese Premier revealed to the attendees at Egmont palace.
“The leaders of China and EU should have a long term perspective”, the Chinese political leader aspires. Further, he emphatically repeated that “China hopes to see Europe recover” and that Europe has the full support from China to resolve the crisis fast. “China and Europe will continue to work closely to uphold the long term stability of the world”, as “the world is undergoing profound changes and challenges”, Mr Keqiang continued later. “To fully emerge from the crisis is to improve the real economy” and to do that the Chinese Premier called for “structural reforms”.
“One belt one road”
As it was much anticipated, Mr Keqiang soon referred to the new Chinese strategy named “One belt one road” and its meaning for investments in Europe. The Chinese Premier talked in his speech about global collaboration on production capacity, re-industrialisation as well as the huge European demand in infrastructure and industrial investment.
“China is strong in manufacturing; today China still buys a lot of key equipments”, the Chinese political leader continued. He consequently opened the example dossier of the significant Chinese investment in the developing countries. “Chinese investment will bring benefits to developed countries”. Thus, he stressed that “we are ready to work with Europe (as well) to increase our mutual investment and cooperation”.
“I hope you have a big appetite”
In a very important statement that was much discussed Chinese Premier Keqiang made clear that “China is willing to assist Juncker’s investment plan for Europe. The Chinese side would like to participate in EU’s plan. I think it is fair to say that this consideration of China to participate in Juncker’s plan is a grand one”. “I hope you have a big appetite!”, Mr Keqiang said addressing to President Juncker.
Coming down to a more technical discussion, the Chinese politician spoke about a strong “financial cooperation and financial framework”. “I would like to say that China will do a lot in terms of raising the collaboration”, he continued. Sharing optimism with the Brussels audience of the 10th China-EU Business Summit, Mr Keqiang said that he hopes China-EU Trade to reach by 2020 and exceed one trillion US dollars.
“It is better to rise and take action than talk”
The Chinese Premier closed his important speech by talking about a more pragmatic approach emphasised on actions rather than just talks. “Legal affairs dialogue”, “FTA feasibility”, “Joint studies”, “People to People exchanges”, “China-EU exchanges” are key topics of collaboration between the two economies. He took the opportunity also to talk about a best example result of the close China-EU cooperation, the fact that in 15 cities in China citizens can get an EU Visa now without the interference of the embassy or consulate. “This will facilitate citizens in the two countries”, he added.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang put a closure in his speech by referring to a popular knowledge that Chinese are good at observation while Europeans in leading action. He thus urged President Juncker to set up together the action plan of this comprehensive cooperation rather than being constrained to talks.
All in all, last Monday the high level 10th China EU Business Summit, following the 17th bilateral EU-China summit at the European Council, set up the concrete agenda and stimuli for a concise action plan of collaboration between the two economies. One day later, on Tuesday 30 June, at China-EU Forum more details were discussed like Digital cooperation, urban planning, trade and investments.
The Sting will be monitoring the China-EU business relations very closely as it is evident that we will be having imminent evolutions on this important matter for the EU.