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Ambassador Lu Shaye: China, Europe not a threat to each other

By ZHANG YUNBI | | Updated: 2023-03-05 08:25
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China and Europe "do not pose a geopolitical, strategic threat to each other", and they should work hard to eliminate divergences and prejudice, said Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye, a member of the 14th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

"Chinese warships do not sail to Europe to 'flex muscles'. Individual European countries have followed the US 'Indo-Pacific strategy' and sent warships to China's doorstep, making China their targets," he noted.

In an exclusive interview with China Daily on China-Europe ties, China-US-Europe interaction and China-France relations, Lu said "the key variable in China-US-Europe ties is the United States."

As some European politicians and scholars urge for economic "decoupling" from China and view China as a strategic rival in terms of security, Lu said the EU is China's second-largest trading partner and China is the EU's top trading partner, and "China always bears goodwill and is willing to do its best to improve China-EU ties."

Both China and the EU are important economies in the world, sharing a strong sense of strategic autonomy and a desire to play due role in international affairs, and both sides should eliminate differences and spare no effort to break away from prejudices, he added.

The European Parliament froze the ratification of the landmark China-EU Bilateral Investment Treaty in 2021.

Lu said he hopes that the treaty could be approved and enter into force at an early date, break down trade barriers and to a certain extent offset the impact of the protectionist policies adopted by the EU and some European countries against China in the past two years.

Also he hoped that China and the EU could maximize efforts to improve their ties and advance high-level contacts in the next phase, including the China-EU Leaders Summit.

It has been more than a year since the major escalation of the Ukraine crisis in February last year. Lu said the crisis "has dealt a heavy blow to Europe's strategic autonomy and strengthened its strategic dependence on the US".

"The US cut off Europe's economic and trade links with Russia one after another, making Russia an enemy of Europe in military, security context. Meanwhile, due to factors, including the loss of cheap energy and US domestic legislation, Europe's businesses in sectors such as manufacturing are moving to the US, and the foundation supporting Europe's strategy autonomy is being hollowed out," he said.

Regarding building a balanced, effective and sustainable European security architecture, Lu believes that if the architecture does not incorporate Russia, it will not even be possible and will only see a bloc confrontation scenario between Russia and Europe.

Talking about China-France relations, Lu said that in recent years the developing relationship has been relatively successful among China's relations with Western countries due to its strategic, stable and mutually beneficial nature.

"Both nations are major countries in the world, they both are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and major nuclear countries, which dictates that the relationship will not easily undergo major changes in face of changes in the international situation," he said.

He noted that three years since the global outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, China-France ties have maintained a stable momentum thanks to the strategic navigation offered by the two heads of state.

"President Xi Jinping and President Macron have maintained frequent communication to steer the development of the relations between the two countries," he said.

According to French media reports, French President Emmanuel Macron publicly expressed his willingness to visit China in the near future at an event in last month.

Lu said he took note of Macron's relevant remarks and he hopes that China and France would work together to plan and prepare for high-level exchanges in the next phase.

He noted that after China optimized and tweaked its epidemic prevention and control policy at the end of last year, its foreign relations and cooperation have resumed rapidly, and so is true for China-France interactions.

He said that if Macron's visit to China is realized, Beijing and Paris should gear up efforts to implement the new consensus reached by the two heads of state.

"The two sides should work in a spirit of having no time to lose to resume their three high-level dialogue mechanisms focused on strategy, finance and culture respectively. These three mechanisms cover almost all primary areas of bilateral exchanges, and the two sides can do a lot based on the three mechanisms," he said.

Next year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of China-France diplomatic ties. Lu said both sides should work to organize relevant commemorative events.

Speaking on specific areas of bilateral pragmatic cooperation, Lu said that in culture and tourism areas, the two countries have great potential and room for collaboration in performing arts, museums and exhibitions.

France is expected to be included in the list of the second batch pilot of destination countries available for Chinese citizens' outbound travel.

"Then we will see a large number of Chinese tourists returning to France, and the French tourism industry has long been earnestly awaiting the return of Chinese tourists."

In the agriculture and food sectors, he stressed that both sides need each other's market and they should talk and work in two ways for achieving mutual benefit.

"France is already the EU's top exporter of agricultural products to China and also wants to export more pork, beef and poultry to China, while China has some agricultural products that are not allowed to be exported to France, such as the stuffed duck intended for Peking roast duck," he said.

There is a lot of room for cooperation between China and France in the aviation sector, and there is a mutual demand for it, Lu said. In the field of medical and health cooperation, he said both sides are highly motivated, and they should continue to expand cooperation in the prevention and treatment of emerging infectious diseases and the training of scientific personnel.

On the coordination between the two countries in multilateral affairs, Lu stressed that their cooperation in multilateral frameworks such as the UN and the G20 should "set aside differences as much as possible, accumulate consensus, and join hands to form synergies and make progress".

"Both countries uphold multilateralism, the authority of the UN, the tenet and principles of the UN Charter and international law. Despite some differences in their wording, both sides are fundamentally subscribing to the rule of law," he said.

"The two sides have more common language in global governance, a domain of less political color, involving areas such as climate change, biodiversity, addressing the global food crisis, assistance to developing countries, and achieving the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals," he said.

When it comes to global governance and the debt problems of some developing countries, there has been claims in the West in recent years accusing China of causing the problem and setting up a "debt trap" for the countries.

Citing Foreign Minister Qin Gang's speech at the G20 Foreign Ministers' Meeting on March 2, Lu said, "More of the debt owed by the developing countries comes from multilateral institutions and Western commercial creditors."

"Moreover, both the US and the West have raised interest rates sharply over the past year, the US dollar has appreciated, and the euro has appreciated when compared to the currencies of developing countries, thus adding to these countries' debt burden and exacerbating their debt crisis," he said.

Lu underscored that "in multilateral affairs, China and France should cooperate as much as possible in areas where they can cooperate, and they can set aside their differences where there are differences, do not impose one's will on another, and accumulate more cooperation results and consensus".

By doing so, the two countries "can lead the relationship toward more positivity, and play a great role as a major country for world peace, development and global governance", he added.

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