Growing trade conflicts between China and the European Union will not erode trade cooperation and economic dependence in the long term, said experts and officials.
With high unemployment rate adding pressure on many governments in Europe to employ job-saving measures, Chinese exporters are falling on harder times.
According to the Ministry of Commerce, during the first three quarters, a total of 19 nations and regions have initiated 88 trade-remedy probes against China, with an impact of $10 billion. Europe alone launched four such investigations.
Since the financial crisis, China-EU trade has been on the decline, but the drop hasn't been as significant compared to the worldwide average.
EU has been the largest trade partner and the largest hi-tech exporter for China, and "they need each other," said Zhou Hong, a researcher at the Institute of European Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
"Bilateral relations are not as negative as projected (in trade frictions)."
It is estimated that the EU's trade investigations against China this year only cover 0.4 percent of the region's worldwide imports.
"They are not a big part of the whole picture," said Joerg Wuttke, president of the European Chamber of Commerce in China.
Although Europe is less aggressive compared to the United States and India, European regions will catch up soon, Wuttke said recently. He said that the coming year would see intensified relations between China and European nations. There will also be a growing number of anti-dumping cases against China, he predicted
Trade experts said they do not believe in the benefits of a trade war.
"We needn't be fussy on the issue. When the economy is at a low, anti-dumping cases are always rising, but it will not last. Cooperation will set the tone between China and its major trade partners," said He Weiwen, an expert on World Trade Organization affairs.
The EU and China agreed on a strategic partnership in 2003, which had been running smoothly until French leader Nicolas Sarkozy met with Dalai Lama earlier this year despite opposition from other European nations. But since the G20 summit in April, the relations have improved.
On Nov 26, the Chinese government sent a purchasing tour to France, signaling the resumption of bilateral ties despite the fact that the tour came months after its initial planned date.
The Lisbon Treaty also goes into effect on Dec 1, turning a new chapter in China-EU relations. The treaty is an agreement designed to fine-tune the EU. A major change will install a representative for the Union for Foreign Affairs, and will shift to a unified position in EU policies.
"It's expected that there will be a unified principle in dealing with China," said Liu Mingli, researcher at China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.
The EU sent a message of reconciliation recently when it urged the European Commission to cancel the proposal extending anti-dumping duties on Chinese leather shoes on Nov 19.
(China Daily 11/30/2009 page13)