Xi’s visit to boost China-EU ties

China Daily (Canada) - - COMMENT -

Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s visit to Euro­pean Union in­sti­tu­tions in Brussels onMarch 31 will be his­toric. It will be the first visit by a Chi­nese head of state to the EU. It will be an oc­ca­sion where the newlead­er­ship of China will lay out its vi­sion for re­la­tions with Europe.

We in the EU are happy that Pres­i­dent Xi will use the op­por­tu­nity to visit four mem­ber states of the EU: the Nether­lands, France, Ger­many and Bel­gium. His visit will give the world a strong sig­nal of the im­por­tance China at­taches to its re­la­tions with the EU— and the world will see in the way Pres­i­dent Xi is wel­comed that we at­tach equal im­por­tance to the re­la­tion­ship.

Since the es­tab­lish­ment of the EU-China strate­gic part­ner­ship in 2003, our re­la­tion­ship has be­come in­creas­ingly closer and stronger. Look­ing ahead, and as the Euro­pean Coun­cil Pres­i­den­tHer­man Van Rom­puy said at the 16th EUChina Sum­mit in Bei­jing in Novem­ber, the next 10 years of the EU-China strate­gic part­ner­ship will re­quire even more in­ter­ac­tion and sup­port for each other’s de­vel­op­ment.

We have moved from be­ing a bi­lat­eral, trade-fo­cused re­la­tion­ship, to one where we strive to tackle to­gether the most im­por­tant global chal­lenges. Trade re­mains a defin­ing com­po­nent of our re­la­tion­ship. China is the EU’s sec­ond-big­gest trad­ing part­ner— while theEUis China’s big­gest trade part­ner. Our trade re­la­tions have been the source of mu­tual ben­e­fit. We have be­come fun­da­men­tally in­ter­de­pen­dent and ma­ture part­ners with the abil­ity to solve fric­tion through ne­go­ti­a­tion.

We now have a grow­ing mu­tual in­ter­est in con­tin­ued global growth and se­cu­rity. One of the main tasks we now face is to fur­ther de­velop our co­op­er­a­tion on se­cu­rity, de­fense and strate­gic re­la­tions. We are al­ready co­op­er­at­ing in anti-piracy op­er­a­tions off the coast of So­ma­lia, and we have seen how co­op­er­a­tion on is­sues like Iran and South Sudan con­trib­utes to re­solv­ing con­flicts around the world. We need to broaden this co­op­er­a­tion to other global hot spots: Syria, Cen­tral Africa and Ukraine.

At the 16th EU-China Sum­mit, we not only looked back on 10 suc­cess­ful years, but also looked ahead by agree­ing on the EU-China 2020 Strate­gic Agenda for Co­op­er­a­tion, which de­fines our co­op­er­a­tion over the com­ing decade. Agenda 2020 shows that the EU and China agree that a safe and pros­per­ous world needs to be based on green, sus­tain­able growth and in­no­va­tion.

In Brussels, where Pres­i­dent Xi will meet Pres­i­dent Van Rom­puy, Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent José Manuel Bar­roso and Euro­pean Par­lia­ment Pres­i­dent Martin Schulz, we ex­pect our lead­ers to fur­ther ce­ment the ties be­tween the EU and China. Talks will cen­ter on how to move our joint Agenda 2020 for­ward. We will ex­pect up­dates on de­vel­op­ments in China af­ter the Third Plenum of the 18th Com­mu­nist Party of China Cen­tral Com­mit­tee and the just con­cluded an­nual ses­sion of the Na­tional People’s Congress, and a dis­cus­sion on how the EU can con­trib­ute to the han­dling of the chal­lenges China faces — how to en­sure a more bal­anced and in­clu­sive growth, smooth the ur­ban­iza­tion process and mit­i­gate the en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lems.

We will in­stil con­fi­dence in the post-cri­sis eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion in Europe, and em­pha­size that stronger trade and in­vest­ment ties with the EU are fun­da­men­tal to our con­tin­ued de­vel­op­ment. We ex­pect the bi­lat­eral in­vest­ment agree­ment, which will pro­vide strong pro­tec­tion for in­vestors and long-term mar­ket ac­cess, will fig­ure promi­nently in the talks.

We also ex­pect to un­der­line how we can solve trade dis­putes through ne­go­ti­a­tion— sig­nalling that we are con­scious that our fu­ture is deeply in­ter­con­nected, and that the stronger each part­ner is, the more it will ben­e­fit the other. In­ter­na­tional hot spots and con­flicts will also be dis­cussed, as well as is­sues on which we do not nec­es­sar­ily share the same views.

Pres­i­dent Xi’s visit to Brussels will be a boost for EU-China re­la­tions. We look for­ward to wel­com­ing him. The au­thor is act­ing head of the Del­e­ga­tion of the Euro­pean Union to China.

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