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China, EU seek to deepen partnership

By Chen Weihua in Brussels | China Daily | Updated: 2019-09-26 10:36

Chinese and European Union officials see a huge potential for mutually beneficial cooperation even when the global economy is overshadowed by unilateralism and protectionism.

Ambassador Zhang Ming, head of the Chinese Mission to the EU, said China has benefited in its development from win-win cooperation with the EU and China's development has generated greater opportunities for such win-win cooperation.

"The China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership has gained more strategic and global significance and delivered tangible benefits to people from both sides," he told a crowd on Tuesday at a reception in Brussels to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

China-EU trade has increased by 250-fold since Beijing and Brussels established diplomatic ties in 1975, hitting $680 billion last year. The EU is China's largest trade partner and China is the EU's second largest trade partner, trailing the US.

China and EU also witness 8 million visits each year, with a weekly 600 flights linking the two places. The China-Europe express freight trains have made 11,000 trips since 2013.

Zhang described the bilateral relations as defined by "mutual benefit, not by differences and competition". He said China hopes to work together with the EU to advance the talks on a bilateral investment agreement, expand two-way openness and preserve the WTO-centered and rules-based multilateral trading system.

He believes China and the EU need to step up cooperation in green development, such as in fighting climate change, implementing the Paris climate accord and cooperating in areas such as the circular economy, biodiversity protection, green finance and clean energy.

He said China and the EU, with respective strengths in such areas as 5G, artificial intelligence, green transport, big data, and the Internet of Things, could do more to facilitate exchanges between research institutes and enterprises and foster a more friendly environment for innovation-driven development.

Phil Hogan, the European commissioner for agriculture and rural development, said on Tuesday that he wants to reaffirm EU's commitment to working together with China.

"We have a strong common interest to deepen the economic relationship between China and the European Union," he said.

While saying that the two sides still have a few issues to be sorted out, Hogan said there is huge untapped potential for growth, particularly in services and investment.

"So to that end, we will continue our efforts to sign a comprehensive agreement on investment," said Hogan, who has been tapped by the European Commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen to be the next European trade commissioner.

In the mission letter to Hogan, von der Leyen directed him to "step up negotiations with China on a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, with the aim of reaching an agreement by the end of 2020".

Global challenges

Hogan believes that China and the EU will be partners in the coming years in finding solutions to many global challenges. "We are committed to working with you to deal with those challenges over time," he said.

He recalled his many trips to China, often leading large business delegations in the areas of food and agriculture.

"I look forward to working with the new college of commissioners under incoming president Ursula von der Leyen to build on these experiences," he said.

Hogan's next trip to China is scheduled for early November, when he will attend a WTO mini-ministerial meeting in Shanghai. The multilateral trading system and WTO reform will be key topics.

Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng earlier expressed that China is keen to push for reforms at the WTO, as well as maintain an effective multilateral trading system for what it calls an open world economy.

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