China and Europe affirm their support for free trade ahead of the G20
Note: The following is an edited translation of a commentary from the Chinese-language "Commentaries on International Affairs."
Against the increasingly negative backdrop of the impact of trade protectionism on global growth, China's commitment to join hands with Germany, and Europe more broadly, to build an open global economy has sent a strong positive signal to countries around the world. China's Vice Premier Liu He has concluded his visit to Germany, during which he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and delivered a keynote speech at the closing of the eighth Hamburg Summit of the China-Europe Forum.
During his meeting with Chancellor Merkel, the vice premier conveyed a message from President Xi Jinping, namely that China is willing to work closely with Germany to promote global economic governance, maintain multilateralism and free trade, and build an open world economy.
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He (front row, center) signs the 'golden book' of Hamburg's Chamber of Commerce as German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (front row, left), the European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager (front row, right), Hamburg's Mayor Peter Tschentscher (row behind, left) and other delegates look on in Hamburg, Germany, on Wednesday, November 27, 2018. [Photo: VCG]
When addressing the forum, Vice Premier Liu also pointed out that as firm defenders of free trade rules and multilateral systems, China and Europe share broad common interests, and so must seek to deepen their cooperation to meet the challenges facing globalization.
In response, Chancellor Merkel said her country remains very interested in participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, and that it always welcomes and actively supports investment by China in Germany. And she affirmed Germany's willingness to maintain communication with China on the global economic and trade situation. This message was backed up by former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who said that China, Germany, and the European Union have an obligation to strengthen their dialogue and to work together to uphold multilateralism and free trade.
China and Germany are all-round strategic partners with enormous scope for cooperation when it comes to safeguarding the openness of the world economy. Both countries are world trading powers and leading sources of foreign direct investment. Both countries benefit from an open world market, as does the world's largest trading bloc the European Union.
The European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said in a speech at the Hamburg Summit that, given they account for about one-third of the world's gross domestic product, China and Europe need to work together to strengthen the rules-based international system, so that there is a level playing field and fair competition.
China and Europe have already made their belief in openness and fair trade known to the world, based on their understanding that there are no winners in a trade war. When the G20 summit opens in Buenos Aires on Friday, time will tell what position the other world leaders will choose.