“An open China brings opportunities to Europe”, a Sting Exclusive by China’s Ambassador to EU

Zhang Ming Donald Tusk 2018

From left to right: Ambassador Ming ZHANG, Head of Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the EU; Mr Donald TUSK, President of the European Council. Copyright: European Union

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Head of Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the European Union, Mr Zhang Ming, on the occasion of China International Import Expo. The opinions expressed in this article belong to the distinguished writer.

Sixty years ago, the first major World Fair after World War II was held in Brussels, whose grandeur could still be conveyed by its iconic building “the Atomium”. Sixty years on, China International Import Expo (CIIE), the first world expo dedicated to expanding import, will be open in Shanghai, China. More than 3,000 companies of over 130 countries and regions have signed up for participation.

As Chinese Ambassador to the EU, I am glad to see the great interest from Europe. EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis, and leaders from the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Croatia, Hungary and Malta will attend. The United Kingdom, Hungary and Germany are among the “Guest of Honor” countries. Fifteen EU member states have set up country pavilions. More than 800 EU enterprises will demonstrate their products to global customers.

Some are asking why China decided to host an import expo. To put it simply, the CIIE is what China’s development calls for, and what the world needs.

In the past 40 years, China has become the world’s second largest economy and the largest trader in goods. China has contributed more than 70% to international poverty alleviation and over 30% to global annual growth. Opening-up holds the key to such achievements.

As China is transitioning from high-speed growth to high-quality development, opening-up remains a sure way to go. Since the start of this year, Chinese government has rolled out a number of measures to cut import tariffs, ease market access, raise the quality and standard of free trade zones, and explore the building of a free trade port. Starting from November 1, tariff cuts on another 1,585 items just took effect, bringing China’s average tariff rate to 7.5%. The CIIE is another major action that China takes to open wider to global markets.

As unilateral and protectionist actions are wreaking havoc, commitment to economic globalization and free trade needs to be reaffirmed by all. The CIIE aims to offer a new platform for global economic and trade cooperation, which allows countries to introduce their products to the huge Chinese market. It is a strong testimony to China’s firm commitment to free trade and multilateral cooperation.

China’s opening-up has and will continue to bring opportunities to Europe. In the past 40 years, China-EU trade has surged from US$3.1 billion to US$616.9 billion, up by nearly 200 folds. For 13 years, China has been the EU’s second largest trading partner. China is the second largest export destination for European automakers, the biggest market for Airbus, and a major buyer of European machinery, pharmaceuticals and agricultural produce. In the next 15 years, China is foreseen to import foreign goods and services worth US$30 trillion and US$10 trillion respectively, which holds out great business prospects for European enterprises. A recent World Bank report reveals that China’s global ranking on ease of doing business has improved significantly from 78 to 46. This trend of improvement will keep on.

The benefits of cooperation are mutual. The involvement of European multinationals in the Chinese market has given a boost to China’s modernization. There are numerous successful examples, like the Daya Bay nuclear power station, Shanghai maglev train, SAIC Volkwagen, Airbus Tianjin, just to name a few. Likewise, Chinese investors in Europe have contributed positively to local employment and growth. They have been welcomed by European market, and hopefully by European policymakers as well.

I have noticed that some European friends are asking if the CIIE will become a milestone in China’s opening-up. I appreciate the great expectations that are placed on China. Please rest assured that China’s reform and opening-up is like a giant vessel that keeps sailing along the set course at a positive and sound pace. Along the way, Europe is a welcome partner that China is always ready to work with.

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