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China Daily Website

China sees scope for more cooperation with Europe

Updated: 2012-10-31 19:41
By Zhang Chunyan ( chinadaily.com.cn)

The scope for cooperation between China and Europe will broaden as China moves to a high level of development, Vice-Foreign Minister Song Tao said in Finland on Monday.

Song also said Japan has solely provoked current tensions over the Diaoyu Islands and called on Tokyo to correct its wrongdoings and return to negotiations.

“We need to draw new plans for our cooperation in trade, investment, finance, urbanization and sustainable development, and explore the possibility of establishing a China-EU free-trade area,” Song said in a speech at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs.

“China has provided firm support to Europe since the outbreak of the debt crisis,” Song said, adding that China contributed $43 billion to the International Monetary Fund, and provided assistance to Europe through buying European treasury bonds, and increasing imports from the continent.

China and the European Union will mark the 10th anniversary of the comprehensive strategic partnership next year. Song said: “In spite of vicissitudes in the international landscape in the past decade, China-Europe relations have stayed on an upward track and scored new and important progress”.

China-EU trade has topped $560 billion, a quadruple increase compared with 10 years ago.

The two sides have maintained close consultations and coordination on climate change and other global issues.

But Song also said: “We need to properly handle our differences and disputes according to the principle of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, and do all we can to translate the huge potential of cooperation into reality, to bring more benefits to the people of both sides.”

Song said China is a staunch supporter of European integration. “A united, stable and prosperous Europe is in the interest of the whole world, China included.”

On the Diaoyu Islands issue, Song said the islands have been China’s integral territory since ancient times, and it has indisputable sovereignty over them.

He said Japan stole the Diaoyus from China during the First Sino-Japanese War at the end of the 19th century. “The Japanese government abandoned its previous agreement with China on setting aside the dispute and took so-called nationalization measures regarding the Diaoyu Islands, which in essence are aimed at changing the islands’ legal status,” Song said.

“The Chinese side was left with no other choice but to make necessary responses,” he said, adding that China has been committed to settling the dispute through dialogue and negotiation.

A peaceful and stable Asia-Pacific region is in the world’s interest, Song said.

“China will stay committed to the path of peaceful development and friendly cooperation with the people of all Asian countries,” he said.