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Much to gain from EU ties

Updated: 2013-11-15 09:58
By Fu Jing ( China Daily Europe)

China's ambassador says relations with Europe will continue to benefit both sides

China's senior diplomat in Europe has urged European Union politicians to attach more importance to "the bigger picture" of China's future development under its new leadership and to make full use of the opportunity to improve bilateral relations.

Feeling upbeat about the prospects for partnerships between China and the EU, Chinese Ambassador to the European Union Wu Hailong issued this message before a leaders' meeting in Beijing on Nov 21.

Wu told China Daily he attended the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China last November and the first sessions of China's new law-making body and political advisory body, which saw changes in leadership of the Party and the government. He is confident about the political judgment and management capacity of the new leadership.

Wu says China has set its development goals through to 2050. China plans to double GDP and per-capita income for rural and urban residents by 2020 from the 2010 level and to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects. By 2050, China will be a modernized socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, harmonious and culturally advanced.

"Realizing these goals matters not only to China, but also to the rest of the world," Wu says.

He admits that, as a major developing country with 1.3 billion people, China faces numerous serious challenges, ranging from economic growth and structural adjustment, reform and opening-up, closing the wealth gap, to pollution, food safety and corruption.

"But talking to people in Beijing, my feeling is that there is great public expectation for and confidence in the new government," he says. Wu says that the new leaders are young, ambitious, experienced and result-driven.

Wu says the leaders have set goals for growing the economy, improving people's lives and promoting social justice. Efforts will continue to promote reform to build an innovative and corruption-free government under the rule of law.

The Chinese government has said development will remain its No 1 priority. It will work for more efficient economic growth by changing the growth pattern, and it will put people first in its pursuit of comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable growth, Wu says.

"China's development will create enormous opportunities for foreigners too."

It is estimated that in the next five years, China will import $10 trillion worth of goods, invest $500 billion abroad.

"Europe will be our important partner in this process," Wu says. "We believe that China will produce a strong driving force for Europe in creating jobs, tackling the debt crisis, and restoring growth."

Wu says this year marks the 10th anniversary of the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership. Over that decade, the two sides have taken solid steps to build three pillars to sustain political, business, and people-to-people exchanges. They have also created dozens of mechanisms for dialogue and cooperation as part of an extensive cooperation structure.

The two sides have also enjoyed frequent high-level political exchanges. During the past year alone, they have held two China-EU summits and the China-Central and Eastern European Countries Summit. Many leaders of EU institutions and member states have visited China.

"Through its rapidly increasing investment in Europe, China has effectively supported the EU's efforts to tackle the economic crisis and promote growth," Wu says.

Wu says that last year, more than 1.5 million Chinese citizens chose Europe as their first overseas destination, and more than 200,000 Chinese students are attending schools in Europe. More than 70 daily flights connect China and Europe. All this progress confirms strong public support for China-EU ties.

"Looking forward, I'm full of confidence about the future of ou partnership," Wu says, noting that China is the world's largest developing country and the EU the largest group of developed countries.

Whether in domestic or international affairs, immediate or long-term issues, China and Europe have always been indispensable partners with constantly expanding shared interests. In the new era, both sides should come together even more to promote growth in bilateral relations, he says.

According to Wu, China and the EU are now preparing a 2020 strategic plan for China-EU cooperation and also planning to launch negotiations for an investment agreement.

"These projects will make us better positioned in our growth strategy by releasing the potential for cooperation," says Wu.

The ambassador says the antidumping investigation opened by the EU against Chinese solar panels had undermined both the interests of Chinese companies and the confidence of the two business communities in being able to work together, though eventually it was resolved amicably.

"We must be highly cautious in using these measures," Wu says, adding that both sides should use dialogue and consultation to manage their differences.

"It is natural for us to encounter problems as China and Europe have different social systems, histories and development levels, but we must not allow such differences to affect the general trend of our cooperation or to compromise confidence in our relations," he says.

(China Daily European Weekly 11/15/2013 page28)