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For a warm spring of Sino-EU cooperation

By David Gosset | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-21 07:36
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Four days before the start of the Year of the Dragon, an interesting — and certainly auspicious — cultural event unfolded in Shanghai's historical heart, at the picturesque Villa Basset, the residence of the French consul general. The occasion was the launch of the book, Inspiring Shanghai, a publication I had the honor of editing and which underscores the vibrant dynamics and cultural exchanges between Shanghai and the world.

In my eyes, this event was not merely a book launch. It symbolized much more, especially in the address by Joan Valadou, consul general of France in Shanghai. Amid the architectural elegance of Villa Basset, Valadou highlighted the significance of 2024 for Franco-Chinese relations, a momentous milestone marking the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between France and China.

The event, by its very nature and the distinguished gathering it attracted — including diplomats from various countries and the European Union — served as a testament to the strong cultural and diplomatic ties that bind France and China. Yet its significance extends beyond the bilateral ties between these two countries. It serves as a clarion call for China to engage more deeply with regions across Europe.

As we commemorate 60 years of diplomatic relations between China and France, initiated by former French president Charles de Gaulle and Chairman Mao Zedong, our focus should extend beyond merely celebrating historical accomplishments. It is equally important to envision and embrace future opportunities.

The significance of 2024 as a milestone year offers an unparalleled opportunity for China to deepen its engagement with the EU. The need for such engagement has never been more critical, given the complex global challenges we face today — from climate change and economic disparities to geopolitical tensions and armed conflicts. Enhanced Sino-European cooperation can play a pivotal role in addressing these challenges, leveraging shared knowledge, resources and innovation.

The relationship between China and the EU is pivotal to promoting a multipolar world and strengthening multilateralism. As two of the most influential global actors — together they represent 35 percent of the world economy — their interaction shapes the dynamics of international relations, trade and global governance. The multipolar world, characterized by multiple centers of power, benefits from a cooperative China-Europe relationship, as it diversifies global leadership and reduces the unilateral dominance of any single country, encouraging a more balanced and equitable international order.

Multilateralism is significantly bolstered by China and the EU's joint efforts. Their collaboration within frameworks such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, and various climate change initiatives showcases a commitment to address global challenges through dialogue and cooperation.

The implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals stands as a paramount endeavor for global progress. These goals, encompassing a broad spectrum of objectives such as eradicating poverty, ensuring environmental sustainability, and promoting peace and prosperity are essential for shaping a better future for our planet. The collaboration between the EU and China to pursue these goals is particularly significant. By pooling their resources, expertise and strategic visions, the EU and China will not only be able to accelerate the progress toward achieving the SDGs but also set a powerful example of global cooperation for the rest of the world.

China and Europe have also a shared responsibility to ensure the emergence of new technologies does not compromise human dignity. Their collaboration is crucial in setting ethical standards and regulations for technological advancements, including artificial intelligence, biotechnology and surveillance technologies. Both sides have unique perspectives and strengths that, when combined, can lead to a more balanced and humane approach to technology development. By cooperating, they can set guidelines that prioritize the well-being of societies worldwide. Their partnership is essential for fostering a technological future that respects and enhances human dignity, and ensures that innovations benefit humanity as a whole without sacrificing humanistic values.

Furthermore, the China-Europe economic and trade relationship is vital for global economic stability and growth. Their mutual engagement in areas such as investment, the digital economy and green technologies not only enhances bilateral economic ties but also contributes to global economic diversification and resilience.

In essence, the China-Europe relationship underpins the promotion of a multipolar world and the effectiveness of multilateralism. By working together, China and Europe can lead by example, showing that international cooperation and mutual respect are the right way to solve the world's most pressing challenges. This partnership is essential for a more stable, prosperous and equitable global order.

As we look forward to what can be called a "warm spring of cooperation" between China and Europe, it is essential to recognize that such cooperation will be built on the foundation of understanding, respect, and mutual benefit. China's engagement with various regions across Europe should be seen not as a mere diplomatic endeavor but also as an opportunity to build a more interconnected and harmonious world.

The author is the founder of the China-Europe-America Global Initiative. He is the editor of Inspiring Shanghai published by Shanghai People's Publishing House (2024).

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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