Following up EU’s China visit ‘crucial’

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

An April visit by EU officials to China to launch a ‘High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue Mechanism’ was a “success”, writes Stanley Crossick on Blogactiv.

Commission President José Manuel Barroso and nine commissioners were sent to Beijing to discuss the development of a joint EU-China response to a number of issues, says Crossick. The new mechanism chaired by EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson and Chinese Vice Premier Wan Qishan will place sustainability and climate change high on the agenda, reports Crossick. 

The discussions that gathered President Barroso, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Chinese President Hu Jintao mainly focused on the Tibet issue, Crossick reports. He claims that “there is huge Chinese resentment at the inaccurate reporting of the Tibet issue by the European media”. 

In China, Barroso made “careful statements” and “made it clear” he was against any boycott, the blogger says. 

The new dialogue mechanism highlights the “interdependence” of Sino-European relations, believes Crossick. The dialogue’s objective is to strengthen cooperation between the EU and China, which requires a strategic approach to tackling bilateral trade issues as well as energy and the protection of intellectual property rights, argues the blogger. 

Mandelson stressed that due to the uncertainty of the global economic environment, “the political temptation of protectionism” could be strengthened, Crossick reports. In the economic context, an agreement was reached over a “master work plan” related to these issues, the blogger says, citing “market access for goods and services” as another issue which will be “high on the agenda”. 

During the meeting, the participants sought to address the environmental and social challenges with which both blocks are faced, with Mandelson concluding that “environmental sustainability is going to be harder going” and “creating greater social equality is going to be even more challenging,” reports Crossick. 

He concludes by saying that “the nature of the follow up (to the visit) will determine whether [it] is a lasting success”. 

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