Wang Hongjian is the Chargé d’Affaires ad Interim of the Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the European Union.
The 23rd China-EU Summit will be held tomorrow. Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet through video link with President Charles Michel of the European Council and President Ursula von der Leyen of the European Commission. Premier Li Keqiang will co-host the summit with the EU Presidents. This meeting, taking place as our world comes to a critical juncture, carries even greater importance than before.
China-EU relations have always been defined by resilience and vitality, as demonstrated by frequent contact between the leaders of the two sides, close coordination on major international and regional issues, and fruitful cooperation across the board. If there is only one thing to add to the list, it has to be the robust economic and trade ties between the two sides, which have risen above the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and reached new heights. According to the latest statistics, China maintained its position as the EU’s top trading partner for the second year in a row, with two-way trade volume in goods increasing by 27.5% and hitting a record of 744 billion euros in 2021.
China and the EU, naturally, do not always see eye to eye with each other. But looking back, differences did not undermine our cooperation at the Glasgow Climate Change Conference or around the negotiating table of the JCPOA. Going forward, we have no reason to let differences overpower our joint aspiration for peace and stability in a turbulent and fluid world. China and the EU should be comprehensive strategic partners rather than systemic rivals. This is the fundamental perception that China and the EU need to stick to. The Chinese side, for its part, has always supported European integration, supported an EU with greater unity and prosperity, and supported European strategic autonomy. China always believes that our consensus and cooperation outweigh differences and competition. At the same time, we hope that the EU can move beyond the “partner-competitor-rival” characterization of its relations with China, view China-EU relations from a strategic and long-term perspective, and adopt a positive and pragmatic China policy.
The harsh realities of today’s world, battered and bruised by unilateralism, protectionism, and the pandemic, call for China and the EU to set aside their differences and meet each other halfway. The recent outbreak of war on the European continent is yet another pressing call for stronger China-EU cooperation. As two major global forces, markets and civilizations, the greater challenges we face, the greater responsibility we have to lead the world out of turbulence, and the greater necessity there is for us to work together.
China and the EU should work together for enduring peace. China and Europe have been victims of wars and beneficiaries of peace and stability. The current situation in Ukraine is something China does not want to see. Since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine, China has been maintaining an objective and impartial position, making independent judgments based on the merits of the matter itself and promoting peace talks. China stands ready to maintain communication and coordination with the European side and continue playing a constructive role together with all parties concerned in resolving the crisis and restoring peace in Europe at an early date.
China and the EU should work together for sustained security. China advocates for dialogue and partnership instead of confrontation and alliance. Peace-lovers as we Chinese are, we believe that one country’s security should not come at the expense of that of others. It is equally true that rebuilding iron curtains, erecting walls of mistrust, and hyping up new Cold War rhetoric goes against the trend of history and cannot lead to peace and stability. Instead, a new vision featuring common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security is needed if security for all is to be achieved. It is in the interest of China, the EU, and the wider world to jointly overcome global security challenges with openness and inclusiveness. Following this spirit, we need to stay alert to the politicization and weaponization of economic issues to prevent protectionism and decoupling from tearing the world apart and exacerbating existing security challenges.
China and the EU should work together for common development. The world economy has yet to recover from the shocks of the pandemic and is now hit again by the Ukraine crisis and its spill-over effects. As potential economic, refugee, food, financial and energy crises loom over the horizon due to escalating sanctions, China and the EU should further strengthen macroeconomic policy coordination and boost international cooperation. The Global Development Initiative（GDI） proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, which has been echoed and supported by more than 100 countries and international organizations, is another promising area of cooperation between China and the EU.
China and the EU should work together for stronger cooperation. The two sides need to fully tap the potential of the dozens of dialogue and cooperation mechanisms they have established over the decades and work for greater synergy between our two economies. As both sides embrace green and digital transitions, we hope to turn our new highlights of cooperation into stronger momentum for common progress. These will also prove to be important areas of bilateral cooperation under the framework of China’s Belt and Road initiative and the EU’s Global Gateway Strategy, which are highly complementary and are in the benefits of Eurasian and global prosperity. As China continues to reform and open up, our cooperation with the EU will further pick up the pace. We hope the European side will also follow the spirit of multilateralism and free trade and create an open, fair, and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese investors.