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Ambassador Liu Xiaoming Delivers A Keynote Speech and Answers Questions at the Webinar with UK Think Tanks On China-Europe Relations | Updated: 2020-07-20 06:00
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On 15 July, Ambassador Liu Xiaoming held a webinar with Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF) and Centre for European Reform (CER) on China-Europe relations after the pandemic, where he delivered a keynote speech entitled Join Hands to Contribute Positive Energy and Create a Better Future for China-Europe Relationship. Around 100 people joined the event, including David Marsh, Chairman of OMFIF, Meghnad Desai, Chairman of OMFIF Advisory Board, Charles Grant, Director of CER, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, Chairman of China-Britain Business Council, members from the two think tanks, representatives from economic, financial and academic sectors in the UK, Europe, North America, Australia and South America, and journalists from 14 media agencies took part in the conference, including the BBC, Sky News, Reuters, The Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, The Guardian, The Independent, CGTN, The Associated Press, Bloomberg, NBC, Agence France-Presse and bTV. The BBC and Sky News broadcast Ambassador Liu's keynote speech and part of the Q&A session live and run the coverage in their prime time programs. The transcript of the webinar is as follows:

Ambassador Liu: Chairman Marsh, Director Grant, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Good morning!

It is a real delight to join you on-line to talk about China-Europe relations after the pandemic.

This year marks the 45th anniversary of China-EU diplomatic relations. In the past 45 years, China's relationship with Europe has become increasingly comprehensive, mature and steady. This relationship has delivered tangible benefits to the people of both sides and contributed positive energy to world peace and prosperity.

Last month, the 22nd China-EU Summit was held on-line. President Xi Jinping had a meeting with President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, and Premier Li Keqiang co-chaired the summit with the two presidents. These meetings charted the course for the relationship between China and Europe after the pandemic.

As Covid-19 continues ravaging the world, the international landscape and the global governance system face profound changes. This most serious pandemic in a century has revealed four global deficits.

First, the health deficit.

Covid-19 has spread to more than 210 countries and regions, affecting more than 7 billion people, infecting over 13 million people and claiming over 560,000 lives. It is the gravest global public health emergency after the Second World War. It poses severe challenge to the safety and health of mankind, and requires the joint response of the international community, including China and Europe.

Second, the development deficit.

This pandemic has resulted in a severe recession in the world economy. According to OECD forecast, European economy would be the hardest hit this year.

International travel and trade are disrupted by restrictions and the global industrial chain is under severe strain. The IMF and the World Bank predicted respectively 4.9% and 5.2% contraction in the world economy this year. How to achieve economic recovery and continued growth is a daunting task for all countries.

Third, the peace deficit.

The pandemic has aggravated the severe challenges from incessant regional conflicts and wars, raging terrorism, and grave humanitarian crisis. People in many countries, especially children, are still suffering. World peace, security and stability are under grave threat.

Fourth, the governance deficit.

The pandemic has revealed the weak links in the global public health governance system which is in need of urgent improvement. Surging protectionism, unilateralism and anti-globalisation, and politically motivated labeling attempts are eroding international solidarity and undercutting joint response to the pandemic. They also pose grave challenges to the global governance system and multilateral mechanisms.

Covid-19 reminds the world that mankind belongs to a community with a shared future. Scapegoating and shirking responsibilities are unhelpful to solving problem or saving lives. Solidarity and cooperation are the only right way forward in this fight against the virus.

Both China and Europe are major global players, big markets and great civilisations. It is important that the two sides join hands to contribute

  • - to the global response to Covid-19,
  • - to world economic recovery,
  • - to improving global governance,
  • - and to overturning the deficits.


First, China and Europe should work together to safeguard the health and safety of mankind.

China attaches great importance to cooperation with the international community, including Europe, on fighting the pandemic.

At the 73rd World Health Assembly last May, President Xi Jinping called for the building of a global community of health for all. He also announced that in the coming two years, China will provide 2 billion US dollars in international aid; when China is successful in developing a vaccine and put it to use, China will make it a global public good.

China also took an active part in the Coronavirus Global Reponse Pledging Conference initiated by the EU and the Global Vaccine Summit hosted by the UK.

Going forward, China and the EU should

  • - continue sharing experience in epidemic-containment,
  • - enhance cooperation on R&D of vaccine and medicines,
  • - strengthen support to regions with weak public health systems,
  • - and actively explore tri-party cooperation between China, the EU and Africa on epidemic response.


Together China and the EU could help strengthen global defense against threats to public health, and contribute to building a global community of health for all.

Second, China and Europe should work together to uphold world peace and stability.

China and the EU have, between them, one tenths of the world's land area, one fourth of the world's population and two permanent members of the UN Security Council. There is every reason that China and the EU should play a key role in safeguarding world peace and stability.

China and Europe should enhance strategic dialogue to step up coordination and communication on major international and regional issues. This include:

  • - supporting the settlement of all hotspot issues and regional conflicts through peaceful dialogue and consultation;
  • - upholding the global non-proliferation regime so as to safeguard global strategic stability.
  • - supporting measures aimed at striking down upon terrorism of all forms and addressing both symptoms and root causes of terrorism, with a view to containing the spread of extremist ideas.


Third, China and Europe should work together to promote development and prosperity in the world.

In face of the challenges from Covid-19, it is all the more important to stay committed to open cooperation.

China and the EU as two major economies should be the "dual engines" of the world economy that

  • - drive economic recovery,
  • - bring economic activities back on track in an orderly manner,
  • - and safeguard the open, stable and secure global industrial and supply chains.

To achieve these goals, China and the EU should enhance coordination on macro-economic policies and uphold an open world economy.

In the first half of this year, the China Railway Express offered an important passage for unimpeded trade between China and Europe, with 5,122 trains shuttling between China and Europe, increasing by 36% year-on-year.

New areas such as connectivity, green development, ecological conservation, environmental protection, digital economy and artificial intelligence will create fresh opportunities for the mutually-beneficial cooperation between China and Europe.

The two sides should stay open to each other and strive to complete negotiations on the China-EU Investment Agreement with a view to reaching a comprehensive, balanced and high-standard agreement.

Fourth, China and Europe should work together to improve the global governance system.

China and the EU are both committed to multilateralism.

  • - Both support greater democracy in international relations.
  • - Both safeguard the international system with the UN at its core, the international order based on international law, and the multilateral trade system with the WTO as its cornerstone.
  • - Both support the WHO in playing a leadership role in global response to Covid-19.

The two sides share common interests in

  • - safeguarding global public health,
    tackling climate change,
  • - developing clean energy, clean transport and green technology,
    and preserving bio-diversity.
  • - The two sides have broad consensus on advancing reforms in the WTO and upholding free trade.


In this year that marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, China and Europe should work together to enhance communication and coordination, safeguard multilateralism and improve global governance.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

In the 45 years of China-EU diplomatic relations, win-win cooperation has been the main theme. In face of the new challenges brought by the pandemic, this relationship has some new problems to solve.

By this I mean the misgivings and doubts of some politicians in Europe who

  • - see China as a "systemic rival",
  • - regard China as a "potentially hostile state",
  • - and believe there will be no going back to "business as usual" with China.


So now, China and Europe have the same questions before them.

  • - What kind of relationship do they want post-pandemic?
  • - What should they do to preserve the overall interests of China-Europe relations?

In my opinion, China and Europe should pull together in the following four aspects:

First, respect each other and reject interference in other countries' internal affairs.

Mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference in other countries' internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit are the basic principles enshrined in the UN Charter and the basic norms governing international relations.

Experience of the past 45 years since China and the EU established diplomatic relations has told us that when these principles were upheld, China-Europe relationship would make progress; otherwise, this relationship would suffer setbacks or even retrogression.

China has never interfered in other countries' internal affairs, and we strongly oppose interference in China's internal affairs by other countries.

Last month, the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress adopted the National Security Law for Hong Kong SAR to deal with the enormous risk Hong Kong faces in safeguarding national security.

This Law is aimed at preventing, suppressing and punishing four types of criminal activities. They are: secession, subversion, terrorist activities and collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security.

  • - The Law plugs the legal loophole in terms of national security in Hong Kong.
  • - It targets a very few actions and activities that gravely jeopardize national security.
  • - It will not affect the high degree of autonomy of Hong Kong.
  • - It will not change Hong Kong's independent judicial power, including the power of final adjudication.
  • - It will provide better safeguards for the rights and freedoms of the Hong Kong residents.
  • - And it will ensure better protection of the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors in the city.

It is not surprising that the National Security Law for Hong Kong SAR has been warmly welcomed by the Hong Kong residents. Nearly three million Hong Kong citizens have signed the petition in support of the Law. More than 70 countries in the world, including some European countries, have voiced their support.

However, some European politicians have made irresponsible remarks regarding this Law to interfere in Hong Kong affairs, which are internal affairs of China.

I want to emphasize that Hong Kong is part of China; Hong Kong affairs are China's internal affairs and brook no external interference.

It is my hope that the EU side will

  • - view the National Security Law for Hong Kong SAR from an objective, reasonable and fair perspective,
  • - take concrete steps to observe international law and basic norms governing international relations,
  • - and stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs, which are internal affairs of China.


Second, China and Europe should see each other as partners and abandon the "Cold War" mentality.

China and the EU have established a comprehensive strategic partnership. The two sides are building a partnership for peace, growth, reform and civilization.

China will always pursue peaceful development. It is committed to peaceful co-existence, mutually-beneficial cooperation and common development with all countries, including European countries. It has always seen Europe as an equal partner rather than a rival.

Between China and Europe, there is no geopolitical discord or conflict in fundamental interests; there is more cooperation than rivalry, more consensus than differences.

Those who see China as a "systemic rival" or a "potentially hostile state" have got it all wrong: they have chosen the wrong target and they are heading in the wrong direction.

What China cares most is to improve the wellbeing of the Chinese people. China's priority is to realize national rejuvenation. And for this purpose, China aspires for a peaceful and stable world.

China and Europe should

  • - deepen mutual trust through equal-footed dialogue,
  • - achieve win-win results through cooperation,
  • - and deal with differences appropriately through constructive communication.


It is important that China and Europe facilitate each other's success in a positive cycle, rather than engaging in a knockout match where one side's gain is built on the other's loss.

Third, China and Europe should seize the opportunities of each other's development and reject zero-sum game.

China's development creates opportunities rather than challenges, still less threats, to Europe.

China and the EU, as two major markets of the world, account for one third of the world's total economy. The two sides are each other's second largest trading partner. And the two economies are highly complementary.

During the outbreak of Covid-19, enormous vitality and growth potential are seen in "stay-home economy", "cloud office", intelligent manufacturing, life and health industries, and public health. These areas have created new opportunities and new space for China-Europe cooperation.

As China deepens reform and opens its market wider to the world, China-Europe cooperation will face more promising prospects.

I am confident that the mutually-beneficial cooperation between China and Europe will not only deliver more benefits to the peoples of the two sides but also provide greater stability and predictability for a world that is full of uncertainty.

Fourth, China and Europe should learn from each other and promote the progress of different civilizations side-by-side.

Both China and Europe, as important birth places of the Oriental and Western cultures respectively, have splendid and time-honoured cultures.

The two sides differ in history, social system and development stage. However, these differences should not become obstacles for exchanges between the two. Instead, they could provide driving forces for mutual learning.

The Chinese people believe that there is harmony without uniformity. We also believe that you should not do unto others what you do not want others to do unto you. China does not copy the development model of other countries. And China does not export its model to other countries.

The EU regards "united in diversity" as its motto. It values equality, inclusiveness and diversity.

It is important that China and Europe respect, appreciate, learn from and support each other. As two major civilizations that have contributed greatly to human progress, China and Europe should work together to translate the diversity and differences in our world into vitality and impetus for further progress. This will enable different flowers of diverse human civilizations to come into full blossoms.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

As an old Chinese saying goes,

"All living creatures grow together without harming each other;

All roads run parallel without interfering with one another."

This should be the way for developing relations between not only individuals but also countries.

History tells us that openness brings progress, inclusiveness leads to integration, and cooperation delivers win-win outcomes.

I hope we could join hands to contribute more positive energy to China-Europe cooperation so that after the pandemic, the relationship between China and Europe will make further progress at a higher level and embrace a better, brighter and more promising future.

Thank you!

Now I would like to take your questions.

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