Q&A on the 19th China-EU Summit to be held on 01-02 June 2017 in Brussels

Endorsed content

19th China EU Summit

(Euraxess, 2017)

  1. How do you perceive the China-EU Summit mechanism? What progress has been achieved since the Summit last year?

The EU-China Summit mechanism is the highest level political consultation between China and the EU, and it provides an effective platform for the continued development of China-EU relations. Since the first China-EU Summit in 1998, the leaders of the two sides have held 18 meetings, with the 19th China-EU Summit to be held in a few days’ time.
The annual China-EU Summit is now a crucial forum that enables the establishment of good working relations between the leaders from both sides, as well as deeper mutual understanding and enhanced mutual trust between the two sides. The meeting provides overall guidance to China’s cooperation with the EU in various fields. Furthermore, it allows both parties to handle contradictions and settle differences in a constructive manner. In this way it eliminates factors that adversely affect our relationship. More importantly, it facilitates the communication and coordination between the two sides on a host of issues including global governance, world peace, and the promotion of prosperity and stability.
Against growing uncertainty and instability in the international outlook, China-EU relations have continued to develop steadily. Leaders of the two sides meet regularly to promote the three mechanisms of strategic, economic-trade and people to people dialogue to increase mutual trust. China and the EU have also continued working-level cooperation on the China-EU Investment Agreement (BIT), China-EU Joint Investment Fund, connectivity, Legal Affairs Dialogue, technological innovation and exchanges and cooperation between SMEs among other things. Our cultural exchanges are growing, with the two sides recently signing an agreement to accord visa-free entry for holders of diplomatic passports. Finally, we are working to link the “Belt and Road” Initiative (B&R) with the European Development Strategy, global economic governance, climate change, etc.

  1. What are the main issues to be addressed in this year’s Summit?

The upcoming 19th China-EU Summit will mark the third face-to-face meeting between Premier Li Keqiang, with President Tusk of the European Council and President Junker of the European Commission.
Beyond the broader exchange of views on the state and priorities for China-EU relations, the two sides will discuss in particular the economy, trade, investment and cooperation on five major platforms:  linking the B&R Initiative with the European Development Strategy, connectivity, digital cooperation, Legal Affairs Dialogue and personnel exchanges. The two sides also plan to explore further areas of cooperation in innovation, energy conservation, and environmental protection.

 

In particular, leaders will seek to address the resistance towards economic globalization and the rise of protectionism, with the aim of supporting multilateralism, protecting the free trade system, constructing open economies, and promoting a just and inclusive global governance system.
The two sides will also seek to resolve economic and trade friction. The way to do so is to exchange views on how contradictions may be overcome and to share their respective concepts on economic and social development and governance. In brief, we will seek common ground, while accepting each other’s differences.

 

  1. How do you see the positive impact that the B&R Initiative has on China-EU relations?

At the 17th China-EU Summit in 2015 the decision was made to link the B&R Initiative with the European Development Strategy. Since then, B&R has grown from an idea to action, from vision to reality. It has already brought concrete benefits to the people of China and Europe and has played a positive role in facilitating the connectivity and common development of the Asian-European continent.
China and the EU have worked to strengthen policy dialogue, link development strategies, and enhance the EU’s understanding of the B&R Initiative through various bilateral channels. This has also increased the consensus between China and the EU on building a new partnership of peace, growth, reform and civilization. With win-win cooperation at the core, an understanding on the new type of international relations has been reached and the healthy and stable development of China-EU relations continues to move on the right track.

China and the EU have focused their attention on the development of connectivity. The two sides have reached agreement on establishing the “China-EU Join Investment Fund” and the “Connectivity Cooperation Platform”, promoting cooperation between the B&R and the “Pan-European Transport Network “, integrating China’s cooperation with the Hungarian and Serbian railway construction into cooperation under the 16+1 mechanism as well as the overall EU-China cooperation. China and the EU have also signed the China-EU Digital Cooperation Strategy, opened the Sino-EU freight line, and China by strengthened cooperation with the EU member states in the airport, ports, aviation and other connectivity facilities. All this has facilitated Sino-European connectivity on land, sea and air.
China and the EU are now each other’s major important trading partners. In 2016, China-EU trade amounted to US $547 billion and the EU invested US $8.8 billion in China. As of March 2017, China’s cumulative direct investment in the EU amounted to US $73.3 billion, and the EU’s cumulative investment in China reached US $114.6 billion. Since the EU-China Investment Agreement negotiations began in 2014, the two sides have worked actively to reach an early agreement and to create an open environment for two-way investment.
China and the EU have also been exploring various forms of financial cooperation. Britain, France, Germany, Italy and a dozen more European countries (many of which EU member states) have joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a reflection of their trust in the B&R as a multilateral cooperation initiative. In addition, China’s accession to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has enabled China’s B&R Initiative to link with the European Investment Program, providing various forms of cooperation in Central and Eastern Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean and Southern and Central Asia.
Recent years have also witnessed an increase in China-EU cooperation in the areas of science, education, culture, health and civil exchanges. In the EU’s capital Brussels for example, seminars, cultural, art, think tank and academic exchanges related to the B&R Initiative have sprung up at dazzling speed, contributing to the understanding, mutual respect and mutual trust between the two sides.

 

  1. What are the main differences between China and Europe and what’s your take on these differences?

China and the EU share common understanding and common interests, yet naturally there exist differences between the two sides. These could be found regarding our political and social system, development models, ideology, and economic and trade areas. At present, the EU has expressed concern on certain economic and trade issues such as steel overcapacity, market access, etc.  China for its part has expressed concern with the implementation of Article 15 of the accession protocol signed when China joined the WTO.


The existence of contradictions in the development of any one thing or idea is simply universal and definite. China-EU relations are no exception. As China-EU economic and trade relations continue to develop, some old differences may be eliminated, and new differences will arise. This is just natural. The key is to understand how to manage the relationship and handle these differences properly. Based on general experience and the development of China-EU relations, at least the following three points should be addressed:
First, we should focus on common interests and pragmatic cooperation. Economic and trade cooperation has always been a main pillar of China-EU relations. In this field we need to seek areas of convergence and understand where our mutual benefits lie.
Second, we should focus on resolving differences through dialogue and consultation. We hope that the EU will maintain market openness and use trade remedy measures cautiously so as to maintain a stable and open international trade environment and refrain from politicizing economic and trade issues. Otherwise, problems will only become more difficult to solve and obstacles to bilateral economic and trade cooperation will be created.
Third, we need to view mutual competition in a right manner. There will always be competition in the market. We should abandon the idea of a zero sum game. China’s development will not challenge the future of Europe. We should encourage healthy competition and follow multilateral trade rules that lie at the core of the principles of the WTO. It is important that we respect the different stages and quality of development of both China and the EU.

 

  1. In the current situation, how do you see the significance of China-EU cooperation in the global context?

We now live in a more turbulent world: economic globalization is facing resistance, protectionism is on the rise, and the multilateral trading system and rules are facing challenges. Tension and conflicts flare up in different parts of the world. Terrorism and the refugee crisis are spreading. All this poses unprecedented challenges to the process of European integration.
As the world becomes increasingly uncertain, the openness and cooperation between countries is put to the test. The international community faces a choice between cooperation and opposition, and between change and the status quo.
Under such circumstances, China and the EU, as two major world powers in the world, should take up the responsibility of safeguarding world peace, promoting common developmentromoting and sending positive, clear and strong signals on major issues related to world peace, development, global governance and international rules.
First, as important members of the WTO, both China and the EU need to uphold the principles of free trade and investment facilitation, maintain a free and open multilateral trading system, strive to build an open world economy, promote global governance, and guide the inclusive, balanced and sustainable development of globalization. We hope that the EU will work with China to fulfil its international commitments.
Second, both China and the EU should uphold openness and remain committed to cooperation, with a focus on development, economic and trade investment, scientific and technological innovation, cultural exchange, etc. This is a way to bring tangible benefits to the Chinese and European people.
Third, in response to global challenges, China and the EU should further strengthen communication and coordination. In the current complex and ever-changing international context, China and the EU need to steadfastly adhere to the Paris Agreement, implement the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and deepen the link between the B&R Initiative and the EU Development Strategy. We need to srengthen cooperation in the fight against terrorism and settle regional hot-spot issues in a peaceful manner, through diplomacy and negotiations.

 

  1. In what areas could China and the EU expand and deepen cooperation?

Both China and the EU are at a critical juncture of in-depth reform and adjustment, which brings opportunities for further cooperation.

As we continue to fully implement the “China-EU Strategic Plan for 2020”, we hope to tap into new areas for cooperation. To name a few: infrastructure, connectivity, technological innovation, energy conservation and environmental protection, circular economy, digital cooperation, high-end manufacturing, high-tech, modern services, climate change, SMEs and global economic governance reform.
Through our contact with the European institutions and the European community, we feel that, despite doubts and misgivings, our cooperation has continued to expand, and that will bring benefits to both sides. We see great synergy between China and the EU which makes the mainstream of China-EU relations as a whole.

China’s development is not a threat to Europe; quite on the contrary, it is an opportunity. Similarly, China-EU cooperation is an opportunity for all parties involved. These opportunities will only increase.  We will create more employment and cultivate a more competitive consumer market.  Ultimately, the citizens of China and the EU will truly feel that cooperation is the best way to share the benefits of a globalized economy and to lead a better life for a better future.

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