For China and the EU, Cooperation is Our Only Right Way Forward

Photographer: Bogdan Hoyaux
European Union, 2022
Source: EC – Audiovisual Service

This article was written by Mr. Peng Gang, Minister and Head of Economic and Commercial Office of the Chinese Mission to the EU. The opinions expressed in this article belong to our distinguished writer.

On July 19th, the 9th China-EU High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue (HED), co-chaired by China’s Vice-Premier Liu He and Executive Vice-President of the European Commission Valdis Dombrovskis, and participated by more than 20 ministerial-level officials, was successfully held. Through pragmatic, frank and efficient discussions, the two sides reached a series of consensus and deliverables on macro-economic policy coordination, cooperation on industrial and supply chains, WTO reform, further market opening-up, implementation of the China-EU Agreement on Geographical Indications, animal and plant inspection and quarantine, two-way opening-up of the financial sector and regulatory cooperation, among others.

The Dialogue injected stability into China-EU cooperation. To further implement the important consensus reached by President Xi Jinping, President Michel and President von der Leyen at various occasions, especially at the 23rd China-EU Summit, the two sides stressed the importance of jointly combating global challenges and deepening supply chain cooperation. In a world of profound changes, we believe that healthy and stable China-EU relations, especially in the economic and trade realm, can help counter the uncertainty on the global economic stage, and are conducive to global development and prosperity. This is especially true as global economy suffers from multiple crises. The two sides should make good use of mechanisms such as macro-economic policy dialogue and financial dialogue, strengthen communication and coordination on macro-economic policies, deepen cooperation on global food and energy security, and jointly promote the stability of the world economic and financial market. In an effort to boost the post-pandemic recovery, China and the EU need to maintain the stability of global industrial and supply chains, strengthen the coordination and cooperation on COVID-19 pandemic control, and ensure the secure and smooth running of sea, air and land trade routes including China Railway Express.

The Dialogue injected new impetus into China-EU cooperation.  It has always been the common vision of China and the EU to safeguard the rules-based multilateral trading system with the WTO at its core. At the meeting, the pledge to uphold unimpeded multilateral trade and advance financial cooperation was once again enshrined by the two sides. In the next stage, the two sides will work together to implement the outcomes of MC12 and continue to discuss the WTO reform road-map and other important issues through dialogue mechanisms including China-EU Joint Working Group on WTO Reform. On more concrete issues, to create a more favorable business environment, both sides will actively promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, promote fair competition, and better protect intellectual property rights. The two sides will further promote two-way opening-up and regulatory cooperation in the financial sector and welcome qualified financial institutions to invest in each other’s markets. Both sides agreed to strengthen cooperation on green finance and promote the use and the improvement of the Common Ground Taxonomy Table. Both sides welcomed the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding On Deepening Cooperation on Animal Health and Sanitary Matters, and the Memorandum of Understanding on Regulatory Cooperation on Shanghai Clearing House, and will deepen exchanges and cooperation in relevant fields. To better meet the needs of the two peoples, China and the EU also agreed to release the second batch of GI list as soon as possible and expand trade in agricultural products.

Entering the third decade of the 21st century, the world is faced with mounting challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic,  climate change, food crisis and the risk of economic recession, to which no economy can stay immune. It’s quite astounding that some people should trumpet theories like “EU-China engagement is useless” and “EU-China economic and trade decoupling” in face of such dire situation. The good news is that, the successful convening of the 9th China-EU HED and its outcomes show that despite differences, China and the EU still have broad space for cooperation. As indispensable players in today’s world, the only right path forward for China and the EU is to focus on cooperation, manage differences, and jointly address global challenges.

Going forward, the two sides should translate the spirit of the Dialogue into practice, and promote the sustainable and healthy development of China-EU pragmatic cooperation on economy and trade. First, we should remain committed to cooperation, rise above external interference and remove obstacles affecting further development of bilateral relations. Second, we should strengthen communication and dialogue by making full use of existing mechanisms and creating new ones. Third, we should focus on implementation. The working teams from both sides should maintain close exchanges and communication on implementing the consensus reached by the leaders of both sides and the outcomes of the Dialogue, and come up with a practical and concrete working plan as soon as possible. The Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the European Union and I myself will maintain close contacts with relevant departments on the EU side and make unremitting efforts to this end.

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