EU and China in search of a win-win agreement through strategic cooperation ahead of the EU-China summit

EU-China Strategic Dialogue Press conference
From left to right: Mr Yi WANG, Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs; Ms Federica MOGHERINI, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
Date: 18/03/2019, Location: Bruxelles – BELGIUM
Copyright: European Union

High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini together with the 28 EU Foreign Ministers met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi last Monday to discuss the agenda of the EU-China Strategic Dialogue. During the meeting, both parties had the opportunity to enhance and promote their mutual cooperation on several international topics.

Both sides are under preparatory work ahead of April’s EU-China summit. The EU is expected to consider tomorrow the action points outlined by the European Commission whereas the President of China Mr. Xi Jinping is going to travel to Italy and France from March 21 to 26. It is clear that both sides value this long term partnership and are willing to begin more intensive talks in order to achieve a win-win collaboration.

EC’s proposals on EU-China relationship

The EC together with the High Representative pointed out 10 key actions to be debated by the EU leaders at the EU summit on March 21-22 regarding EU-China cooperation. The Old Continent focuses on the fight against climate change, peace and security in Iran, the improvement of the relationship in all aspects with China and possible security threats posed by foreign investment in technologies and infrastructure along with 5G networks security.

More specifically, Federica Mogherini mentioned last week: “China is a Strategic Partner of the European Union. We pursue strong bilateral and multilateral cooperation on files where we share interests, from trade to connectivity, from the JCPOA to climate change. And we are willing to keep engaging robustly where our policies differ or compete. This is the aim of the 10 actions that we are proposing to strengthen our relations with China, in a spirit of mutual respect.”

EU-China Strategic Dialogue key facts

The timing of the meeting between the EU and Chinese Foreign Ministers, which took place a few weeks before the EU-China summit, in combination with the fact that it is the first time ever the Chinese Foreign Minister participates at a Foreign Affairs Council shows the importance of the ongoing negotiations.

Federica Mogherini mentioned that various foreign policy issues were discussed during this dialogue concentrating mainly to the bilateral actions needed to promote cooperation, investments and comprehensive partnership in the framework of global economic challenges. Particularly, the Vice President of the EC said: “I can mention some of the global issues on which we clearly have cooperated and continue to cooperate: from the Iran nuclear deal to climate change – the implementation of the Paris Agreement -, the Sustainable Development Goals and, in general terms, support to the multilateral international rules-based order.”

On the other hand, Chinese State Councilor Wang Yi addressed 10 points, reflecting on the ones published by the EC last week, where both the EU and China have common grounds and approaches. Foreign Minister Wang Yi also agreed that the EU-China Dialogue is fruitful and practical but the Chinese government is seeking for collaboration and fair competition instead of “groundless accusations for political purposes and attempts to bring down a foreign company”. Furthermore, Wang Yi said that “China is ready to work with European and other countries to enhance cooperation on cybersecurity and work out universally accepted rules and principles”.

April’s EU-China summit

The president of the EC had the chance to meet last Monday the Chinese State Councilor in the sidelines of the ninth round of the China-EU High-level Strategic Dialogue. Jean-Claude Juncker highlighted his support for the improvement of the EU-China ties in order to achieve a successful summit on the 9th of April and continue their strategic partnership. It is therefore up to the hands of the EU leaders and officials to review and express their views about the 10-points plan released by the EC.

As far as China is concerned, President Xi’s upcoming visit in Italy, France, and Monaco stresses the importance of the relationship and long term cooperation between China and EU, especially in view of April’s summit and despite the international challenges stressed by China’s Foreign Minister.

Thus, this year is going to witness a considerable upgrade in the EU-China relations and their future collaboration at the moment when the EU trade deficit increased from 20.8 billion to 21.4 billion euros in just a years’ time, according to Eurostat.

All in all, it seems that both sides consider their cooperation as an utmost strategic priority and intend to put through a win-win deal in the upcoming April high level meetings which will allow them to overcome their differences in a mutual and balanced way.

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