China and EU can work together to defend free trade
Premier Li Keqiang has ended an official visit to Bulgaria and Germany, during which he attended activities such as the China-Germany Economic and Technical Cooperation Forum and co-chaired the leaders' meeting of China and Central and Eastern European countries. China Radio International comments:
China and Germany have been strengthening their cooperation in many fields. The Sino-German trade volume now accounts for about one-third of the total trade volume between China and the European Union. Over the past 40 years, the trade volume between China and Germany has increased a hundredfold, making China the third-largest destination for Germany's exports and its largest source of imports.
Currently China is expanding its reform and opening-up process, and the measures it is taking include lowering the threshold for market access, strengthening intellectual property rights protection, and improving the business environment. Germany and other European countries that have good relationships with China will be the first to benefit from these efforts.
Besides, 11 of the 16 CEE countries are members of the EU, and their cooperation with China can help the EU to narrow the development gaps among the members of the organization and better balance the economies of its members. For the other countries that hope to join the EU, cooperation with China can boost their development so that they meet the standards of the EU earlier.
China and CEE countries have gained win-win results from their cooperation programs. For example, Chinese enterprises have helped CEE countries to strengthen infrastructure construction with their rich experiences and advanced technologies, while agricultural and cultural enterprises from CEE countries are welcome in China. As a result, China's imports from CEE countries have grown by 10.3 percent annually, 5.1 percentage points higher than the growth rate of China's exports to them. In 2017 alone, China imported goods worth $18.5 billion from CEE countries, 24 percent higher than that of 2016.
Both its ties with Germany and those with Central and Eastern European countries are part of China's strategic relationship with Europe. As the two largest economies on the Eurasian continent, China and Europe are important factors in the defense of multilateralism and the global free trade system.
As the trade protectionism and unilateralism of the United States threaten the world trade order, it is necessary for China and European countries to stay firmly together to defend free trade.
By strengthening their cooperation, the two economies can bring their relative advantages into play to oppose the unilateralism, trade protectionism and anti-globalization thinking that are challenging the normal trade order of the world.