China-EU talks 'a sign of maturity'

By Xiao Su (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-01-19 07:28

Discussing differences is a sign of the maturity of China-EU relations, said European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Fererro-Waldner yesterday.

Speaking at the Renmin University of China, Waldner said: "I think we have a good record, both on keeping disputes to a minimum, and working to resolve them when they arise."

It is normal for divergences to grab the headlines, she said, adding that in fact differences of opinion between China and the EU were surprisingly few. Waldner was in Beijing for the launching of talks on the new framework of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, or PCA, which will replace a 1985 trade and economic pact that has governed China-EU relations for the past two decades.

In the speech, themed The EU and China Moving Forward, she also explained what the phrase "comprehensive strategic partnership" means in practice.

The China-EU Strategic Partnership, a title first coined in 2003, "includes strong bilateral cooperation on political issues as well as the economy and trade", Waldner said.

"It also includes working together in an international context and cooperation to address today's global challenges," she added.

Waldner also flagged up three key international challenges that face China, the EU and the world as a whole tackling weapons proliferation, helping Africa ensure sustainable development and climate change.

"The (China-Africa) summit in Beijing at the end of last year was a reminder that China is already an important donor country and development actor," she said.

Serge Abou, EU ambassador in Beijing, described Waldner's trip as "very fruitful."

"We have not only launched negotiations on the PCA, but also exchanged views with our Chinese counterparts on international issues such as Iran and the DPRK," the ambassador said.

He said the two sides have also made an assessment of current bilateral ties, concluding that they are moving in the right direction.

(China Daily 01/19/2007 page2)

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