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Enhanced cooperation with EU expected

By CHEN YINGQUN | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-11-30 07:23
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Flags of China and the European Union are seen in this photo. [Photo/VCG]

China and the European Union have broad common interests and have formed resilient bilateral ties of mutual benefit and interdependence over the years, and the two sides should work together to further unleash their huge cooperation potential, analysts said.

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, will visit China on Thursday for the first official meeting between leaders of China and the EU since the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China last month.

"Against the backdrop of a tense geopolitical and economic environment, the visit is a timely opportunity for both EU and China to engage," the European Council said in a statement earlier this month.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Monday that China hopes to strengthen strategic communication and build consensus with the European side through the visit and jointly work for sustained, sound and steady development of China-EU relations, in order to inject more stability into the complex and volatile international landscape.

He Yun, an associate professor in the School of Public Administration at Hunan University, said that major background issues of Michel's visit are the energy crisis sweeping across Europe and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The EU is considering a ninth round of sanctions against Russia, but its previous sanctions have brought high energy prices and a negative economic outlook, she said, adding that European companies are struggling because of the high energy costs and many are moving to China.

"Michel is hoping to use this opportunity to discuss and coordinate bilateral relations, economy and trade, the Russia-Ukraine conflict and climate change, and strengthen bilateral cooperation to reduce the fallout of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and bring about swift economic recovery," the associate professor said.

She said she expected that China and the EU would agree to find a peaceful solution to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The two sides also have shared interests in fighting climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, boosting global trade and resisting the United States' attempts to decouple from the global economy, she said.

"There is no better way to strengthen common ground and overcome differences than by talking directly face-to-face. In this sense, I am fully confident that the meeting will yield good results for both sides," she added.

Despite the impact of the pandemic, China-EU economic ties remain robust. In the first eight months of the year, total trade between China and the EU amounted to $575.2 billion, up 8.8 percent year-on-year, while the EU's investment in China totaled $7.45 billion, up 121.5 percent year-on-year.

Zhao Junjie, a research fellow with the Institute of European Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said there are some unfriendly voices toward China recently, as some European officials fail to look at bilateral ties practically and objectively.

Face-to-face communication between Chinese and EU leaders is of critical importance to promoting the steady development of China-EU relations, he said.

"There are major interests of common concern between China and the EU, from climate change and the fight against the global pandemic to the stability of the global industrial and supply chains. The leaders of China and the EU need to sit down and talk about how to move the healthy development of China-EU relations forward to the next stage," Zhao said.

He said that after years of efforts, China and the EU have developed a relationship of mutually beneficial and deep interdependence, and no matter who wants to decouple the two sides, it is not going to happen.

"China-EU relations remain resilient," Zhao added. "Both sides should be more inclusive and pragmatic, build consensus and manage differences to promote the steady development of bilateral relations."

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