Premier Li's trip strengthens Sino-EU ties, provides united front on climate change

China Plus Published: 2017-06-03 15:54:48
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Premier Li's trip strengthens Sino-EU ties, provides united front on climate change

By Shafei Moiz Hali

Premier Li’s trip to Germany and Belgium to attend the annual China-Germany all-round strategic Prime Ministers meeting and to hold the China-EU summit has proved to be very productive. EU and China jointly contribute almost 60% towards the global nominal GDP. Over the years trade between China and the EU has been on the rise and Premier Li’s tour of Germany and Belgium provides yet another affidavit for this growing trend. 

The world is facing utter chaos caused due to the rise of terror attacks, shifting trends in global politics, sluggish global economic growth, threats of global warming, rise in populism, and refusing admittance to refugees based on the fears of spread of terrorism. All this is extremely detrimental for globalization, freer trade and global peace and prosperity. In the presence of such chaos around the globe, high level international interactions like the China-Germany strategic Prime Ministers meeting and the China-EU summit become positive indicators for globalization, as these interactions provide a platform to global influential leaders to put on their thinking caps to anchor heuristics for global issues. The importance of such interactions also magnifies especially when some of the traditional global leaders start shying away from global issues, like US President Trump’s announcement of pulling out of the Paris climate agreement and his populist stance on other issues. 

Premier Li’s trip to Germany reinforced strong ties between the two countries as various agreements were reached focusing regional and global issues, at the same time bilateral cooperation has been boosted to a new level by the signing of various deals for the enhancement of cooperation in the fields of economy and trade, new-energy vehicles, trilateral cooperation, finance and artificial intelligence. Further steps have been taken to ensure the joint development of the "Made in China 2025" plan and Germany's "Industry 4.0" concept. The cooperation model of the Research Funding 2+2, and the rapid development of various China-Germany industrial parks has also been bolstered. Towards the strengthening of bilateral ties Premier Li said, “China is ready to forge a closer innovative partnership with Germany. China and Germany a golden pair of innovation cooperation and such a partnership has put a high-powered engine to China-Germany pragmatic cooperation.”

The German Chancellor Merkel also responded by praising the strong Sino-German ties and said, “Germany is ready to work with China to build a platform to synergize the innovation and high-tech development strategies of the two countries.” 

As mentioned above, agreements were also reached focusing on regional and global issues. Premier Li and Merkel during the joint press conference stated that, the “two countries have agreed to speed up negotiations on an investment agreement between China and the European Union (EU).” It is prudent to note that this investment deal will is a major achievement as it profits mutual trade by unlocking two-way channels for both markets. Li emphasized the importance of this by saying, “As major trading partners for each other, it is necessary for China and the EU to discuss the feasibility of the establishment of a free trade zone.” Merkel recognized the importance and stated that, “Germany attaches great attention to the EU-China investment treaty, and the signing of the treaty will be a good start of negotiations on an EU-China free trade agreement.” 

Premier Li also attended the 19th China-EU summit at Brussels with President Donald Tusk of the European Council and President Jean-Claude Juncker of the European Commission. The summit was a major success as Premier Li strengthened ties and paved channels for consolidation between the EU and China. Premier Li said, “Stable EU-China relations are useful to counter instability in this world, it requires our constant efforts to resolve existing issues.” This statement by Premier Li emphasizes the fact that EU and China combined have the capacity to kick start the sluggish global economic growth. 

During the summit another hot topic was “climate change” as the EU is a major driver within the global efforts towards curbing CO2 emissions thus President Trump’s announcement of pulling the US out of the Paris climate change agreement is a major blow towards the global efforts directed at tackling climate change. The European leaders regretted the US stance and Donald Tusk stated, “We are convinced that yesterday's decision by the United States to leave the Paris Agreement is a big mistake, but the fight against climate change, and all the research, innovation and technological progress it will bring, will continue, with or without the US.”

Jean-Claude Juncker also expressed his regrets and said, “Fighting climate change is more important today than yesterday. […] There is no reverse gear on energy transition, no backsliding on the Paris agreement.”

China is also taking major strides in combating climate change and Premier Li emphasized China’s stance on global warming and said, “China will continue to work "steadfastly" to implement the commitment of the Paris climate deal and combating climate change is a global consensus, “with tremendous efforts, China will move towards the 2030 goal step-by-step steadfastly." 

The overall summit was a major success as European Council president Donald Tusk and President Jean-Claude Juncker of the European Commission both felt major inroads have been made in strengthening Sino-EU ties. Tusk while defining the achievements within the summit said, "My impression is that it was the most fruitful and most promising summit."

To conclude every time when major leaders meet and get face time, the chances of successful integration rise, as such interactions provide platforms for streamlining trade mechanisms, signing new deals, and they are a win for globalization and a win for multilateralism as these are the only means of pushing the gas pedal for regularized global economic growth in a fair environment and this is the reason why Premier Li said, “We need to uphold multilateral rules, this world will be a jungle without multilateral rules. Both sides believe that China and the EU should go with the tide of globalization and push forward globalization to make it fairer and more inclusive, It is clear that globalization has brought tremendous benefits to China, the EU and the world.”

Shafei Moiz Hali has a master's degree from George Mason University, Virginia, USA in the field of International Commerce and Public Policy. Mr. Hali has been working as an Assistant Professor at the National Defense University (NDU), Islamabad, Pakistan with the department of Government and Public Policy Since 2009. Currently, he is pursuing his PhD from the College of Public Administration at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST), China.

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