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Xi stresses key role of ties with EU

By Cao Desheng and Mo Jingxi | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-08 06:48
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President Xi Jinping meets with President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, who are in China for the 24th China-EU Summit, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on Thursday. HUANG JINGWEN/XINHUA

President calls for correct perception of each other

President Xi Jinping emphasized on Thursday the "strategic importance" of relations between China and the European Union for global peace, stability and prosperity, and called on both sides to strengthen strategic communication, enhance understanding and manage differences through constructive dialogue.

Xi made the remarks during a meeting in Beijing with President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, both of whom are in Beijing for the 24th China-EU Summit, which was held on Thursday.

He underlined the need for both sides to have a correct perception of each other, enhance mutual trust, and honor commitments in developing China-EU relations.

"We should not see each other as an adversary because of different systems, reduce cooperation due to competition, or engage in confrontation because of disparities," Xi said.

The meeting came at a time when mounting frictions have arisen in China-EU relations due to complicated factors ranging from geopolitical competition to trade imbalances.

China has previously pushed back against an EU anti-subsidy investigation into Chinese electric vehicles and the EU's "de-risking" policy to reduce its reliance on Chinese imports. It maintains that "de-risking" and "reducing dependence" should not evolve into throwing away and weakening cooperation.

Xi said that China and the EU should work together to be partners in mutually beneficial cooperation.

Given the mounting turbulence in the international landscape, China-EU relations are of strategic importance and global influence, and matter to the peace, stability and prosperity of the world, he said.

Both sides have the responsibility to jointly provide greater stability to the world, inject more impetus into global development, and play a greater role in leading and supporting global governance, the president added.

Noting that the Chinese and European economies have a high degree of complementarity, Xi called for both sides to strengthen the bonds of their interests with intensified cooperation in broader fields.

Trade between China and the EU reached $847.3 billion in 2022, a 2.4-percent increase over the previous year, according to statistics from the Ministry of Commerce.

China and the EU are each other's second-largest trading partner, with rapid growth in trade in lithium batteries, electric vehicles, photovoltaic modules and other green products. Two-way investment amounts to more than $230 billion.

China is advancing high-quality development and high-level opening-up, and it is willing to take the EU as a key partner in economic and trade cooperation, a priority partner in scientific and technological collaboration, and a trusted partner in industrial and supply chains, pursuing mutual benefit and promoting common development, Xi said. He added that both sides should also strengthen and facilitate people-to-people exchanges.

Xi noted that Chinese modernization and European integration are strategic choices made by China and the EU for their respective futures. Both sides should respect and support each other, and strengthen the alignment of their development strategies in order to achieve shared growth, he said.

China is willing to continue promoting high-quality development of the Belt and Road, including aligning the Belt and Road Initiative with the EU's Global Gateway strategy, to jointly help developing countries accelerate their development, Xi said.

The president also called for China and the EU to strengthen communication and coordination within multilateral frameworks such as the United Nations and the G20, uphold multilateralism, oppose bloc confrontation, promote the political settlement of international and regional issues, and jointly address global challenges.

During the meeting, both Michel and von der Leyen said that it is important for the EU to develop relations with China. They said that the EU does not want to decouple from China and looks forward to a long-term, stable, predictable and sustainable relationship with China.

The EU leaders said that they are pleased to see the achievements of high-level dialogue between the EU and China in various fields this year, and they believe China's long-term stable economic development is in line with the interests of Europe.

They expressed the hope that both sides will continue to strengthen dialogue and cooperation in the areas of trade, green development and the digital economy, and work together to maintain the stability and security of industrial and supply chains.

The EU adheres to the one-China policy, they said, and it is willing to closely communicate and collaborate with China, uphold multilateralism, adhere to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and promote the resolution of regional issues such as the Ukraine crisis and the Middle East issue.

In the afternoon, Premier Li Qiang co-chaired the 24th China-EU Summit with the two European leaders.

Li said China hopes the EU will be prudent when introducing restrictive economic and trade policies and when using trade remedy measures, and it should keep trade and investment markets open.

During the meeting, both sides fully affirmed the success of this year's China-EU High-level Strategic Dialogue and high-level dialogues on trade and the economy, the environment and climate, and digital cooperation. They agreed to continue to hold mechanism dialogues at all levels in various areas, including on people-to-people exchanges.

They also expressed willingness to pursue two-way opening, mutual benefits and win-win cooperation and oppose decoupling and disruption of supply chains, and agreed to enable a fair and nondiscriminatory environment for each other's enterprises.

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