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China and EU natural partners despite differences: China Daily editorial | Updated: 2023-11-13 20:23
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In yet another sign that China and the European Union are determined to push ahead with their mutually beneficial cooperation, the two sides will hold a summit in Beijing next month, more than 18 months after their previous such meeting.

The EU's internal market chief Thierry Breton confirmed that the summit will be held on Dec 7-8 during a news conference in Beijing on Friday after a series of meetings with Chinese officials.

He said that "it was very good to reengage" after the challenging pandemic period and his meetings had been an "opportunity to rebalance our relationship ... and also to address global challenges together".

He described the meetings he held with his Chinese counterparts as "constructive" yet "tense on some issues". China, in particular, raised concerns about the EU's anti-subsidy investigations over the country's electric vehicles. But as well as this, the topics of discussions ranged from Sino-EU trade relations to 5G technology and supply chains, underscoring not only the broad extent of the two sides' practical cooperation but also the shared belief in its potential.

Breton's visit to Beijing came on the heels of a series of trips to China by top EU officials including the bloc's foreign policy leader Josep Borrell last month and its trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis in September. These visits, as well as the Chinese premier's visits to France and Germany in June, are indicative of the two sides' willingness to strengthen strategic communications and jointly promote the healthy and stable development of bilateral ties, which serves their mutual interests.

Of course it would be unrealistic to believe that the irritants in their relations are being swept aside. But the two sides have always maintained an open attitude toward their differences and worked together to try to resolve them. A shared attitude that has enabled the generally healthy development of Sino-EU relations in the past.

As China is now opening up at a higher-level, by reducing the negative list for foreign investment and creating a level playing field for foreign businesses, it is offering new market opportunities to the world.

Europe has been no slouch in seizing these. European investments in China still surged in 2022 despite headwinds from the pandemic and bilateral tensions. In the eyes of many European companies, China remains a "predictable, reliable and efficient" market despite calls by some politicians to "de-risk" from the country. German chemical giant BASF, for example, is pushing ahead with plans to spend 10 billion euros ($10.9 billion) on a new production complex in Guangdong, in the largest foreign investment ever made by the company.

Indeed, as two major forces and economies of the world that seek to promote multilateralism and support free trade, China and the EU are natural partners rather than "systemic rivals".

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