Opportunity to enhance China-EU partnership 'never greater'

Despite already enjoying one of the world's most 'dynamic trading relationships', the EU and China still have much to offer each other and the wider world, says Yang Yanyi.

By Yang Yanyi

17 Mar 2014

As ambassador and head of the Chinese mission designate to the EU, I had the pleasure and privilege to attend the 16th China-EU summit last November which climaxed the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership.

I was very impressed with the achievement made over the past decade in China-EU relations. We have set in place three pillars underpinning the summit, the annual high-level strategic dialogue, the annual high-level economic and trade dialogue and the biannual high-level people-to-people dialogue (HPPD), which have proven instrumental in promoting mutual understanding and trust. China has become the EU's second largest trade partner after the US and the EU is China's second largest export market.

"China stands ready to consult fully and effectively with the EU on major bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual concern"

I was even more impressed with the importance attached to China-EU relations by both sides. As pointed out by president Xi Jinping, China and the EU are "two major forces for safeguarding global peace", "two major markets for promoting common development" and "two major civilisations for pushing for progress of mankind". Both share a dream of realising global peace and prosperity. Both are committed to their shared responsibility to promote peace, prosperity and sustainable development for the benefit of all and both are committed to consolidating and developing mutually beneficial cooperation.

Definitely, I have come to Brussels at a time when opportunities of cooperation for both countries have never been greater, and the prospect for common development never been brighter. Now, China is fully deepening reform and moving towards the goal of becoming a moderately prosperous society. The EU is striving for reform and advancing the integration process. And both are committed to working together towards the implementation of the China-EU 2020 strategic agenda for cooperation, adopted at their last summit. We have set the bar high, but we are well positioned to reach these ambitious goals.

Our embarkation on the road of the second decade strategic partnership will be jump-started by the first ever visit to the EU by Chinese president Xi Jinping later this month. There is no doubt that this landmark event will give a stronger boost to China-EU ties and elevate our mutually beneficial cooperation to a new height.

To ensure a smooth development partnership and to meet regional and global challenges together, it's worthwhile that we continue to deepen mutual trust. China stands ready to consult fully and effectively with the EU on major bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual concern to build common ground, strengthen coordination and cooperation, and provide strategic support for promoting bilateral relations while safeguarding international peace and development.

We enjoy one of the world's biggest and most dynamic trading relationships. To bolster shared prosperity, we are joining hands to enhance further our trade and investment relationship towards 2020. In that perspective, we have started negotiation on a comprehensive investment agreement. Conclusion of this agreement will provide for a progressive liberalisation of investment and strong protection to investors.

We are also reinforcing cooperation in science, technology and innovation, as well as exchanges and cooperation in the field of energy legislation, policy and standard formulation, and low-carbon energy technologies.

Given that China is going to raise urbanisation 64 per cent by 2030 and invest over €600bn in environmental protection, within the framework of the 12th five-year plan up to 2015, China and the EU are expanding dialogue and cooperation on sustainable urbanisation and environmental protection. We welcome EU member countries, as well as cities, enterprises and organisations to establish closer ties with their Chinese counterparts. China is eager to benefit from EU's experience and best practices on urban planning, administration, natural and cultural heritage preservation, and green technologies.

As people-to-people exchanges are an essential sector of peace and state-to-state relations, we are expanding contacts between peoples, especially the youth. To fully harness the leading role of the HPPD, we will, together with the EU, hold the second meeting in Beijing and launch a variety of cultural activities in Chinese and European cities. To broaden exchanges between think-tanks and media, we are working intensely with the college of Europe to establish a China library and supporting its efforts to set up a Europe-China research centre on their campus. We hope they will facilitate deeper understanding and appreciation of our respective history, culture and policies.

Last, but not least, since dialogue and exchange between political parties plays an important role in building mutual understanding and consensus, we are engaged with various political parties in the EU on communication and consultation. We hope the new round of high-level political parties forum will be duly convened this year.

In short, China and the EU have so much to offer to each other and to the world as a whole, by firmly anchoring our partnership on mutual trust, aligned interests and common prosperity. With the commitment of our leaders and our peoples, I am fully confident that our relations will sprint forward in 2014, the Chinese year of the horse.

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