Despite some “growing pains”, the relations between China and the European Union (EU) have made important progress in 2018, and the interests of the two sides have been closely intertwined, Ambassador Zhang Ming, head of the Chinese Mission to the EU, told in a recent interview.
In the year of 2018, which marks the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the China-EU Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, the relations between the two sides have maintained a steady growth momentum, with scope of cooperation being expanded and interests further integrated, among others, Zhang said.
In the past year, the 20th China-EU leaders’ meeting was successfully held. Leaders of many European countries, including Britain, France and Germany, together with about 10 commissioners of the European Commission and more than 50 members of the European Parliament have visited China.
“Such frequent high-level exchanges have enhanced mutual trust and injected new political impetus into the development of China-EU relations,” Zhang noted
In the economic and trade sector, bilateral trade volume has grown rapidly to a new height this year. The two sides also exchanged offers of bilateral investment treaty, agreed to end the negotiation of the Agreement on Geographical Indications in a timely manner, and signed new cooperation agreements on circular economy, blue partnership and customs cooperation.
China-EU relations are bearing more significance on the global level, Zhang added. “China and the EU have more common words in supporting multilateralism and improving global governance; They also issued a joint statement on climate change while maintaining close communication on such global and regional hot issues as the Iranian nuclear and Syria.”
In addition, China and the EU have deepened their cooperation on the Belt and Road initiative, Zhang said. With a growing positive voice within the Union, the EU’s recognition and understanding of the initiative are more objective thanks to their deepened political consensus and more fruitful cooperation.
During the 20th China-EU leaders’ meeting and the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit, China and the EU reached important consensus on synergizing connectivity between the Belt and Road initiative and the EU Strategy on Connecting Europe and Asia. Many Chinese and European companies have cooperated in third-party markets including Asia and Africa to carry out major projects in infrastructure, energy, environmental protection and finance.
The pragmatic results of China and the EU in 2018 are inseparable from the positive attitude of the EU in developing cooperation with China. The EU’s objective voice toward China is rising. And with a greater expectation, the EU is more active in making strategic plan for the development of bilateral relations, Zhang noted.
“China appreciates the EU’s positive stance on developing bilateral relations and is willing to meet the EU halfway, hoping that the Union could match its words to deeds, respect China’s core interests and major concerns, and develop bilateral relations in a fair, equitable, open and win-win manner,” Zhang said.
Meanwhile, the year 2019 is important to both sides as it marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China and the European Parliament election.
“Amid rising protectionism and unilateralism on the global arena, China and the EU have a greater responsibility to promote bilateral relations, enhance mutually beneficial cooperation for the good of the two peoples while continuously adhering to multilateralism, so as to deal with the uncertainty of the global situation with stable bilateral relations,” said the ambassador.
“The interests of China and the EU have been closely intertwined, but the potential for cooperation needs to be further explored,” Zhang said.
For now, EU’s investment in China accounts for 4 percent of its total external investment stock, while China’s investment to the EU only takes up 2 percent of the latter’s foreign investment, according to the ambassador.
“There is still pretty much room left to expand bilateral cooperation,” he said.
Talking about the differences between China and the EU on some specific issues, Zhang said that given their different history, culture, national conditions and developing levels, it is normal to have different views.
China and the EU have a solid foundation of political mutual trust, long-standing economic complementarities. As long as the two sides uphold the spirit of mutual respect, working together for mutually beneficial results, the “growing pains” will eventually be solved, Zhang said.