Ex­plore un­tapped po­ten­tial in EU-China ties

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

This year we cel­e­brate the 40th an­niver­sary of diplo­matic re­la­tions be­tween the Euro­pean Union and China, es­tab­lished onMay 6,1975. It is an im­por­tant mile­stone in an ever more im­por­tant re­la­tion­ship be­tween our union of 28 Euro­pean states and China.

We have come a very long way since 1975. At that time the EU was made up of just nine mem­ber states. China was only be­gin­ning to open up and had yet to un­dergo its eco­nomic mir­a­cle. Trade be­tween our two sides was minis­cule; now the EU is China’s largest mar­ket and China is the EU’s sec­ond-largest trade part­ner. This re­la­tion­ship has made us truly in­ter­de­pen­dent, in the sense that the suc­cess of one party is pred­i­cated on the suc­cess of the other.

We co­op­er­ate in more ar­eas than ever be­fore, in­clud­ing for­eign pol­icy, se­cu­rity and de­fense, and cy­ber se­cu­rity. We both have ob­vi­ous shared in­ter­ests in the peace­ful res­o­lu­tion of global con­flicts, cli­mate change mit­i­ga­tion, sus­tain­able devel­op­ment, food and en­ergy se­cu­rity, nu­clear non­pro­lif­er­a­tion and so­cial jus­tice. While we have our dif­fer­ences, no­tably on hu­man rights, our part­ner­ship has be­come ma­ture enough to al­low frank dis­cus­sion on th­ese is­sues.

Most sat­is­fy­ing of all is that con­tacts be­tween the EU and China in ar­eas like ed­u­ca­tion, tourism and sci­en­tific and cul­tural ex­change are boom­ing. To­day 250,000 Chi­nese stu­dents have cho­sen to fol­low cour­ses at Euro­pean uni­ver­si­ties, while the num­ber of Euro­peans study­ing in China amounts to 40,000, with a fur­ther in­crease ex­pected in the com­ing years. At the same time Euro­pean coun­tries count among the top des­ti­na­tions for Chi­nese tourists.

But there is still much un­tapped po­ten­tial in our re­la­tions and this is why in Novem­ber 2013 we adopted the EUChina 2020 Strate­gic Agenda for Co­op­er­a­tion, the frame­work for our re­la­tions un­til the end of the decade. It iden­ti­fies four main ar­eas to bring our part­ner­ship to the next level: peace, pros­per­ity, sus­tain­able devel­op­ment and peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­changes.

With prepa­ra­tions al­ready un­der­way for the next EU-China Sum­mit, it is now time to turn words into ac­tions. One such ac­tion would be the ac­cel­er­a­tion of ne­go­ti­a­tions on a com­pre­hen­sive, am­bi­tious bi­lat­eral in­vest­ment agree­ment, as well as the deep­en­ing of our co­op­er­a­tion in theWTO and other pluri­lat­eral ne­go­ti­a­tions. This would fur­ther open up ac­cess to each other’s mar­kets, while cre­at­ing more bal­anced world trade.

EU tech­nol­ogy, know-how, ser­vices and in­vest­ment can pos­i­tively con­trib­ute to China’s ef­forts to achieve in­no­va­tive, bal­anced, sus­tain­able and so­cially-in­clu­sive growth—and to be­come a suc­cess­ful high-in­come econ­omy. There is huge op­por­tu­nity for shar­ing the EU’s ex­pe­ri­ence through the EU-China Sus­tain­able Ur­ban­i­sa­tion Part­ner­ship and for fur­ther de­vel­op­ing con­nec­tiv­ity be­tween Europe and Asia, which will bring ben­e­fit to both sides.

An­other area where the EU and China must work to­gether more is in the en­vi­ron­ment and cli­mate change. A suc­cess­ful out­come to the UN Cli­mate Change Con­fer­ence in Paris later this year would send a strong sig­nal to the en­tire world. This will be an im­por­tant step on the path to a cleaner, greener, low-car­bon fu­ture.

Last De­cem­ber, Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Coun­cil Don­ald Tusk in his first con­ver­sa­tion with Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping em­pha­sised the im­por­tance of de­vel­op­ing a strong strate­gic re­la­tion­ship with China, say­ing that the 40th an­niver­sary of EU-China re­la­tions would be a good mo­ment for the next EU-China Sum­mit to de­velop fur­ther our trade, eco­nomic, in­vest­ment and po­lit­i­cal re­la­tions.

We echo this sen­ti­ment and with one voice ex­press our hope that this year will be a mem­o­rable one for EU-China re­la­tions. The ar­ti­cle is co-au­thored by the Am­bas­sadors to China of the Euro­pean Union and the 28 EU Mem­ber States of Bel­gium, Bul­garia, Czech Repub­lic, Den­mark, Ger­many, Es­to­nia, Ire­land, Greece, Spain, France, Croa­tia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithua­nia, Lux­em­bourg, Hun­gary, Malta, the Nether­lands, Aus­tria, Poland, Por­tu­gal, Ro­ma­nia, Slove­nia, Slo­vakia, Fin­land, Swe­den, and the United King­dom.

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