Ambassador Zhang Ming’s Op-ed On the Occasion of 45th Anniversary of Establishment of China-EU Diplomatic Ties
On May 6, 1975, the People’s Republic of China and the European Economic Community, the predecessor of the European Union, officially established diplomatic ties, opening a new chapter in China-EU relations.
In the past 45 years, China and the EU have respectively traveled an extraordinary journey, and China-EU relations have kept a sound momentum of development. The two sides have established the comprehensive strategic partnership, and are actively promoting partnerships for peace, growth, reform and civilization. It is our firm belief that the broadening and deepening of mutually beneficial cooperation could bring about greater opportunities for development of both sides, deliver more benefits to our citizens, and provide more stability to this world of uncertainties.
In such a spirit of cooperation, China-EU relations have been enhanced with new dynamism and dimensions over the past 45 years. Last year, our bilateral trade was worth 300 times as much as that in the early days of our diplomatic relations. Our cooperation has expanded to many more areas such as peace and security, environment, science, technology, culture, education and health. Internationally, we are making joint efforts to uphold multilateralism and address global challenges. We have a shared commitment to robust growth, lasting peace, sustainable innovation, clean environment and cultural diversity.
Forty five years on, China and the EU are now facing shared new missions under the new circumstances. The COVID-19 has posed unprecedented health, economic and social challenges to the whole international community, including China and the EU. This crisis has prompted us to carefully think about how to keep our economies and societies resilient, how to promote harmonious co-existence between man and nature, and how to steer globalization in the right direction. To find the answers, it is more important than ever to keep the China-EU relations in good shape.
We need higher-quality development. We must make economic growth less resource-intensive. The Chinese economy is moving from high-speed growth to high-quality development, in which technological innovation, digital connectivity and environmental protection play a more prominent role. The EU is in a twin transition to a green and digital economy. It is up to us to foster new drivers of cooperation in these areas, which will help improve livelihoods and better protect the planet that we call home.
We need closer cooperation. In face of the pandemic, China and the EU choose to work together in solidarity. This illustrates once again that we are partners that need each other. To address global challenges such as climate change, unsustainable development, regional and international conflicts, the community of nations must overcome geographical distance and ideological differences, and engage in broad-based and in-depth cooperation, with a view to making global governance more equitable and reasonable. As two major forces, China and the EU have the responsibility and capability to take the lead.
We need greater openness. The COVID-19 has indeed triggered a lot of thoughts on globalization. Yet interdependence is not outdated. Neither decoupling nor self-isolation offers a way out. China will not stall its efforts to deepen reform and expand opening-up. We hope that the EU and other global partners will join us in safeguarding an open environment for global cooperation, upholding the multilateral trading system and keeping global supply chains stable. We look forward to concluding a high-level and balanced investment agreement between China and the EU.
With 45 years of development, China-EU relations now have a solid basis to build on, we are capable of meeting challenges of all kinds, and we are capable of fulfilling missions of our time. Going forward, we have every confidence and ambition to push for even greater progress in the growth of China-EU relations.
(The author is Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Head of the Chinese Mission to the EU)