Strong China-EU ties to bring more stability to the world
Note: The following article is taken from the Chinese-language "Commentaries on International Affairs".
China and the European Union reiterated their commitment to further cementing their partnership and safeguarding free trade and multilateralism during Premier Li Keqiang's annual meeting with his European counterparts in Brussels on Tuesday. The annual meeting marks a new starting point for bilateral relations, and comes after the two sides celebrated the 20th anniversary of this annual series of high-level meetings last year.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (C), President of the European Council Donald Tusk (L), and President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker meet in Brussels for the 21st China-EU leaders' meeting on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. [Photo: gov.cn]
President Xi Jinping vowed to further deepen ties between China and the European Union during his first visit to EU headquarters in 2014. After his visit, bilateral trade surged: In 2018, two-way trade hit a record high of 682 billion U.S. dollars. Both sides have also strengthened their cooperation in security, sustainable development, cultural and people-to-people exchanges, and technological innovation.
Some European media outlets have described the policy of the European Union towards China as wavering. But leaders on both sides have repeatedly emphasized that there is more cooperation than competition in the relationship. China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a recent China-EU strategic dialogue that the two sides share a consensus in areas including support for multilateralism, the leading role of the United Nations in international affairs, and support for an open world economy and a rules-based multilateral trading system.
When it comes to cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative, over 10 European countries including Italy, Hungary, Poland, Greece, and Portugal have signed memorandums of understanding with China. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has also expressed her country's willingness to play an active role in the initiative.
The growing cooperation between China and the European Union has raised some voices of concern in Europe. A signed article by Premier Li was published on Monday in the German newspaper Handelsblatt in which he responded to these concerns. "Given the differences in geographical location, history, culture, social system and development path, it is natural for China and Europe to have different views and even differences over some issues," he wrote. But he expressed his optimism that these differences could be managed, adding that "our two sides have the wisdom and capability to properly handle differences, jointly tackle challenges, and expand mutually beneficial cooperation to the benefit of our nearly 2 billion people."
During their meeting this week, Premier Li and his European counterparts agreed to further expand bilateral cooperation in defending multilateralism and free trade and supporting scientific and technological innovation. Consensus was reached on advancing China-Europe investment agreement negotiations and expanding two-way market access. And both sides committed to make decisive progress this year on concluding the ambitious China-EU Comprehensive Investment Agreement in 2020.
In his signed article, Premier Li quoted a European proverb: "Those who work alone, add; those who work together, multiply." It is in this spirit that China and the European Union will continue to develop their partnership and jointly promote global governance in order to forge ties that will be a stabilizing force for global economic development and stability.