EU urged to remove political obstacles

By Fu Jing and Qin Jize (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-05-14 09:01
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GODOLLO, Hungary - China has renewed its call for the European Union to lift its arms embargo on China and to recognize the country's market economy status, calling on the European Union to remove major political obstacles in bilateral relations.

"If we can get rid of the obstacles, we'll be able to march forward rapidly," Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Fu Ying said after the second round of the China-EU strategic dialogue, which concluded on Thursday.

David O'Sullivan, Chief Operating Officer of the European External Action Service, declined to discuss the issue in detail, saying "We have exchanged views on this issue very frequently."

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On the recognition of China's market economy status, the high-ranking EU official said that the EU has "very strict criteria" about the recognition.

"It is, in fact, a rather technical issue Globally we can only recognize the market economy status when certain criteria are met," he said.

Chinese analysts say that both sides have big differences on politics, values and ideology, which requires continuous communication, understanding and respect rather than intervention.

Ren Dingqiu, a researcher with the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, said rosy prospects can be seen in the development of China-EU relations, and the significance of cooperation between the two sides is becoming more and more evident.

"The strategic dialogue will help the two sides to enhance common understanding and expand substantive cooperation," he added.

After five hours of discussion on Thursday - without revealing any specific details - both sides said the talks had laid the foundations for handling international relations in a quickly-changing and turbulent era.

Calling the dialogue "comprehensive, productive and candid," Dai Bingguo, State Councilor of China, told reporters that the Sino-EU relationship has far-reaching impacts on the globe.

Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, agreed that China and Europe are key players in international relations and China's emergence on the global stage is extremely impressive, noting that the EU is determined to exploit the full potential of its strategic cooperation with China.

"The EU-China relationship should be an example of international cooperation for the 21st century," she told reporters.

The two sides covered a number of international issues and focused in particular on North Africa and West Asia, with Dai reiterating China's opposition to force and foreign intervention in solving domestic disputes.

"We sincerely expect North Africa and West Asia to have peaceful and stable development and they should be given their due positions and respect on the global stage," Dai said at a press conference.

Speaking highly of China's role in world affairs, Ashton noted that the dialogue "has enabled us to address systematically several key global issues that are of importance to both of us."

"We reviewed our bilateral relations, and looked at the EU 2020 Strategy and China's Five-Year Plan, where there is untapped potential for concerted actions in areas such as green growth and the low carbon economy," she said.

The two sides agreed to push forward cooperation in infrastructure construction, environmental protection and sustainable development, vowing to provide favorable investment conditions for each other's enterprises.

The third round of the China-EU strategic dialogue will be held in China. The first round was held in Southwest China's Guizhou province in September.

Diplomatic interactions will continue next week as the president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, starts his four-day China visit on Monday.

This is the first time Van Rompuy has visited China since he assumed office in 2009 and is seen as an important exchange between leaders.

Zhao Shengnan contributed to this story.