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Collaborative horizons at the 2023 China-EU summit

By Pierre Picquart | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-12-05 15:28
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The upcoming summit between China and the European Union on Dec 7 presents these two major global players an opportunity to reflect on current areas of cooperation and explore more possibilities for collaboration. As international relations evolve rapidly, this meeting holds particular significance in assessing the geopolitical dynamics between China and the EU.

At the moment, cooperation between China and the EU spans various sectors, such as trade, environment, innovation, and research. While economic considerations are paramount, collaborations in crucial areas such as climate change, scientific research and education have also been established, strengthening ties between these two entities and contributing to global stability.

Vast possibilities of cooperation

Both China and the EU can capitalize on their respective strengths to address global challenges. The upcoming summit provides an ideal platform to explore numerous cooperation opportunities enriched with the following three essential points:

connectivity and infrastructure: Increased cooperation in connectivity and participation in large-scale infrastructure projects can converge to create a robust global network. China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and the EU Connectivity Strategy can harmonize, facilitating trade and strengthening economic ties.

sustainable development and renewable energy: While confronting climate challenges, close collaboration to promote sustainable development is crucial. Partnerships in renewable energy, clean technologies and carbon emissions reduction can contribute to achieving common goals in the fight against climate change.

technological innovation: Cooperation in technological innovation can stimulate economic growth and enhance global competitiveness. Partnerships in emerging sectors such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and space research can create mutually beneficial synergies.

education and cultural exchanges: Increased investment in education programs and cultural exchanges can enhance mutual understanding between the Chinese and European people. Partnerships between universities, cultural institutions and businesses can create lasting connections, fostering deeper understanding.

About the concept of 'de-risking'

Reassessing the concept of "de-risking" in the context of relations between China and the EU requires a more nuanced and proactive approach. Rather than solely focusing on minimizing potential threats, both parties should adopt a perspective that integrates understanding risks with opportunities. Instead of viewing "de-risking" as a strictly defensive strategy, it could be perceived as a means to comprehend and manage risks while exploring mutually beneficial cooperation opportunities. This could involve surpassing traditional approaches to encourage pragmatic collaboration, aligning risk management with the pursuit of growth opportunities and mutual understanding.

Let's consider the example of the advanced technology sector. Traditionally, "de-risking" might lead to excessive concerns about sharing sensitive technologies between China and the EU. However, by taking a more proactive perspective, both parties can develop cooperative mechanisms aimed at balancing technological security and collaboration opportunities. Creating joint research and development projects in specific areas, with appropriate guarantees, can promote mutual technological advancement while mitigating perceived risks.

Another significant example can be found in the field of environment and sustainable development. Rather than viewing "de-risking" solely as a concern related to environmental issues, both parties can explore concrete possibilities for cooperation. For instance, collaborating on projects for biodiversity preservation, pollution control, or the promotion of renewable energies. By establishing strategic partnerships, China and the EU can proactively work toward solving global environmental challenges, creating economic opportunities and strengthening their overall collaboration.

By broadening the perspective of "risk reduction" to include concrete examples such as those mentioned above, both parties can transcend traditional approaches, fostering mutually beneficial collaboration and creating innovative models for international cooperation.

China-EU Comprehensive Agreement on Investment

A central point of these discussions will be the call for the European side to resume negotiations on the China-EU Comprehensive Agreement on Investment. Recognizing the vast potential for cooperation in this area is crucial.

This agreement can not only boost bilateral investments but also contribute to creating a stable and predictable economic environment. Fair mechanisms for investor protection, combined with assurances of sustainable development, are essential for long-term success.

The recognition of the potential for cooperation in investment can create an environment conducive to innovation and growth. By adopting a pragmatic and inclusive approach, the conclusion of a comprehensive agreement on investment can become a reality, signalling the willingness of both powers to work together despite challenges and differences.

Expanding on this, the agreement's successful implementation can serve as a model for other regions, setting high standards for responsible investment practices. This visionary approach will not only enhance economic ties but also establish China and the EU as trailblazers in fostering global economic stability through collaborative and sustainable investment strategies.

Embracing this collaborative spirit sets the stage for transformative economic partnerships across borders. The ripple effects of this strategic collaboration promise to reshape the landscape of international economic relations.

In conclusion, the upcoming China-EU summit in 2023 offers a unique opportunity to strengthen cooperation between these two major entities. Rethinking "de-risking" and restarting discussions on the comprehensive agreement on investment are crucial steps in shaping a stronger and more dynamic partnership.

It's time for these two global powers to set aside past differences and build a robust partnership based on mutual respect and understanding. By joining forces in areas such as climate and trade, China and the EU can play a crucial role in promoting global stability and sustainable development.

The world eagerly awaits to see how these discussions unfold and what new and exciting opportunities will emerge from this crucial summit. In these critical discussions, adopting a balanced perspective is essential.

The author is a French scholar, and president of the Center for Studies, Development and International Research on China. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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