China-EU relations now stand at a new, historical starting point, a point when we can embrace hard-earned opportunities for development. There are three reasons why this moment is historic.
First, China and the EU are now ready to boost a relationship that has, over the years, put down solid foundations. The beginnings of the diplomatic relationship – dating back 35 years – were humble, but over that period there has been sustained progress to a point where we now enjoy all-dimensional, multi-tiered and extensive exchanges and co-operation. On both sides, we are now more unequivocal in acknowledging that ours is a strategic partnership, that our economies are increasingly complementary, and that we need deeper exchanges and co-operation in other areas.
Second, profound changes in the international environment have brought new opportunities. We are now in a post-crisis era whose defining characteristic is a slow global economic recovery. After the ordeal of the financial crisis, the international community must recognise that, in a globalised world where destinies are shared, only co-operation, co-ordination and joint responses will bring us out of a treacherous period. By working together, China and the EU will usher in a bright future with ‘win-win’ progress. Of that, we have no doubt.
Third, China and Europe can complement each other in this new phase. What has happened this year shows that the Treaty of Lisbon has – and will – substantially change the EU’s landscape and boost its international influence. The treaty has shown itself to be a strong driving force for European integration. As for China, it is in a crucial period of reform and opening up. China’s destiny is more and more associated with that of the world. It is therefore natural for China and Europe, two major powers in the international community, to choose to deepen co-operation in a bid to realise their respective development ambitions.
The China-EU summit that will be held in Brussels on 6 October is the most important event in China-EU relations this year. This is the 13th such summit, but the first since the Lisbon treaty came into force. As such, it will provide strategic guidance for both sides and chart the course for future China-EU ties.
The discussions between China’s Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, and José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, will be candid and in-depth. The two sides will sign co-operation agreements on youth exchange and maritime affairs. And during the summit there will be supporting events to which we attach great importance, including a China-EU Business Summit and a China-EU High-Level Cultural Forum.
Expanding common ground
Looking ahead, we have full confidence in the prospects for China-EU relations. We are willing to work together with the EU to increase trust and to expand common ground. We will do so in a spirit of mutual respect, treating each other as equals.
We will also intensify our efforts to promote practical co-operation in trade, investment and technology, and to tap the growth potential offered by the greening of our economies, by clean energy and by consolidating the basis of co-operation developed over decades.
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China is ready – absolutely ready – to strengthen communication, co-ordination and co-operation with Europe on issues of long-term strategic interest, to respond jointly to global challenges such as the financial crisis and climate change, and to make our contribution to the cause of world peace and development.
Song Zhe is China’s ambassador to the EU.