Xi Jian served in Romania and Slovenia before taking his post as Chinese ambassador to Warsaw in 2012. He spoke to EurActiv Poland's Karolina Zbytniewska and Anna Bogumił.
The EU and China – both are perceived as very important players in the global game of influences. How does China perceive the EU? As a rival or as a strategic partner?
As Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council pointed out last year during his visit to China, we are strategic partners , not rivals. I very much agree with him on that point. We also established three mechanisms: high-level strategic dialogue, high-level economic dialogue and high-level people-to-people dialogue. In the political area, Chinese and European representatives meet annually to discuss the most important issues.
When it comes to economy, we cannot afford insufficient cooperation. All in all, the EU is China's biggest trade partner, while China is second biggest trade partner to the EU. Education and culture exchange are also growing year after year.
To sum up, I would say that this bilateral cooperation is all-levelled and multilayered. Our cooperation is not a zero-sum game, but is undoubtedly based on bilateral benefits and is profitable for both sides. It also contributes to world stability, so it is of extreme importance to develop it further.
Who would Xi Jinping, the president to the People’s Republic of China, call to talk with in the EU? Van Rompuy? Catherine Ashton? Barroso?
The EU organisation is very complicated. However, to us it is not important whom to call, but to achieve the expected outcome. EU-China cooperation is set on all levels, so our communication goes very smoothly. It does not matter who we call as long as it is fine for our bilateral contacts.
How do you find cooperation with the European Union? Which countries are the biggest beneficiaries of the economic and political cooperation? What are the most crucial sectors for China in the EU?
I will describe it in three sentences: our cooperation develops very fast, depicts huge potential and has a very bright future. It is extremely hard to say who is the most crucial partner to China – different countries have different types of cooperation with us. In terms of economy, obviously, the bigger country - the bigger influence. I think here about countries such as Germany. However, China is interested in cooperation based on mutual benefits, which we wish to conduct with all the EU member states.
When it comes to the most crucial areas of our cooperation, it is hard to indicate one or two that are the most important. China worked together with the EU during the European debt crisis, and we also have large cooperation potential in such areas as trade, investment, finance, urbanisation, sustainable development, etc. Within the last years, the scope of the cooperation in every area has significantly increased and intensified.
But do you speak about the EU as one entity, or you consider each of the member countries separately?
To China, the EU is a whole. The development of relations with each of the member states contributes to the intensification of the relations with the whole EU. And vice-versa.
How do you see the possibility of launching a free trade agreement between the EU and China, especially in view of the EU trade talks with the United States?
China has already signed such free trade agreements with Switzerland and Iceland. We are open to such a cooperation. However, it seems that with the EU as a whole, it will be a long process. Single EU member state cannot negotiate FTA with China, which involves many aspects such as trade, investment, intellectual property rights, labour, environmental protection, etc. The EU does not recognise the Chinese market economy status, and we have frequent trade frictions. Those and others conditions may be obstacles, and their removal may take a long time.
China has initiated economic expansion in proximity to the eastern EU border. Belarus has signed a €5-billion contract with China to build a special industrial park nearby Minsk. Why there? Do you plan other similar initiatives in other countries of the Eastern Partnership?
We hope that our cooperation with Belarus will boost the regional economy. But we are welcoming any partners when conditions are ripe. China established cooperation with Nigeria, Russia, Vietnam, Thailand and others. In 2012 Mr Wen Jiabao, then Chinese prime minister, suggested co-building of industrial zones in all CEE countries, also in Poland. Both sides are examining the possibilities.
We search for cooperation not only outside our country, but we also co-build an industrial zone inside China with Singapore and Malaysia.
What is the Chinese position in the solar panel row with the European Commission? And how about the wine row?
The Chinese government and relevant industry made a lot of efforts to solve the PV panels trade friction through dialogue and consultation and showed great sincerity. Mr Li Keqiang, Chinese prime minister, did much crucial work himself. As to the EC’s decision, our three standpoints have not changed: firstly, strongly against the abuse the trade relief measures, because this kind of taxing is not fair; secondly, to insist on using negotiation and consultation to solve the friction; thirdly, our determination to safeguard the interests of our nation, relative industry and enterprises.
The wine case is a regular trade investigation, at the request of our wine industry, and also on the basis of relevant Chinese law and procedures. It’s also in accordance with WTO rules. As regulated, this investigation will end by July 1, 2014. The Chinese investigation authorities will do the investigation according to the law and follow the principle of being fair, just and transparent.
The popularity of renewable sources of energy is growing in the EU. In Poland the process is slower as our energy production is closely connected with coal. How do you see the EU's ambitious anti-climate change goals?
We are very positive about fighting climate change and enhancing global governance. We made our commitments in industrial and environmental policy. China actively takes part in international dialogue.
For us climate change means not only environmental, but also industrial consequences. This is why the new government puts environment among its most important priorities. We concentrate on pushing forward green development, and insist on the principle of “Common but differentiated responsibility”, fairness, and the principle of capacity. We strengthen dialogue on clean energy issues. In 2005, the European-Chinese partnership for climate change was launched. We conducted extensive exchange and cooperation in some specific areas like infrastructure energy saving, transportation, low-carbon development, etc.
We also put stress on fruitful cooperation with Poland. Chinese delegation will be present for COP19.
Does it mean that China will sign the post-Kyoto protocol?
No. There are too many obstacles for it. And the obstacle is not in China.