China Today (English)
Moving Together Toward a Common Goal
A China-europe freight train departed from Shanxi Province in China to Mersin, the largest port city in southern Turkey on July
29. Loaded with 49 containers, the train first reached Kazakhstan, and there the cargo was loaded aboard a ship and crossed the Caspian Sea. After arriving in Azerbaijan, it was again put on a train and headed to Turkey. During the past eight years, freight trains have opened a new window for China’s inland cities to open up to the outside world. Sea-rail combined transportation has further improved logistics efficiency and promoted economic and trade cooperation between China, countries along the sea-rail route, and other European countries.
According to Chinese statistics, in the first half of 2021, Chinaeu trade exceeded US $388.2 billion, an increase of 37 percent. From January to May this year the EU’S investment in China increased by 20.8 percent, while China’s investment in the EU increased by nearly 70 percent. The EU had been China’s largest trading partner for 16 consecutive years, before it was surpassed by ASEAN last year, due to Brexit. Also last year, China surpassed the U.S. to become the EU’S largest trading partner.
Seen from the economic data, the pragmatic cooperation between China and the EU has not been fundamentally impacted by politics and the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent survey published by the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China shows that European companies believe in China’s stability and the opportunities China offers.
China-eu relations have long been characterized by stability, pragmatism, and a low profile. The two sides have had long-term cooperation and achieved fruitful results in the fields of economy and trade, investment, science and technology, humanities, and climate change. However, due to the revision of the EU’S position in its relations with China in recent years, the EU not only regards China as a negotiation and cooperation partner, but also as an economic competitor and institutional opponent. The EU’S attitude toward China has therefore toughened up.
Since there are no geopolitical conflicts between China and the EU, there is the agreement that multilateralism is a better option than having a superpower dominating global affairs, which augurs well for the China-eu relations. Today, the EU advocates maintaining contact with China, cooperating and competing economically, stressing cooperation with China on key issues that impede global development, and striving to strengthen coordination between the two sides.
At the seventh China and Globalization Forum hosted by the Center for China and Globalization (CCG) on July 30, Joerg Wuttke, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, said European companies can seize the opportunity to help China reach carbon dioxide peak emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. The EU can provide support to China in many fields including manpower, corporate structure, cross-border cooperation, and business environment improvement.
Last year, China and the EU concluded the negotiations on the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), demonstrating the willingness of the two sides to conduct in-depth cooperation on the basis of the complementarity and similarity of the two economies. Under the pressure of the recent recovery of the world economy impacted by the pandemic, CAI is particularly in line with the interests of both sides. It also provides solutions to EU companies’ doubts about China in the areas of market access and fair competition in recent years. Therefore, observers expect CAI to be implemented as soon as possible.
Rudolf Scharping, former German federal minister of defense, said in an interview with China expert Frank Sieren that German companies which cooperate with China are worried about how political rhetoric might harm their daily economic activities. One thing that is clearer than ever is that Germany needs pragmatism and values. According to Scharping, it can be seen that the right to be free from poverty, the right to good health systems, the right to longevity, as well as the right to education and a better livelihood are now largely realized in China for the first time in history. Even independent American polls in China show that the Chinese have high confidence in their political system and government. Scharping said China’s value system should be respected. To solve major global challenges, cooperating with China is better than boycotting China.