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Wang Yi: China-European Union (EU) Relations Have Stood at a New Historical Starting Point

On December 15, 2019 local time, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell on the sidelines of the Foreign Ministers' Meeting of the Asia-Europe Meeting in Madrid, and met the press together.

Wang Yi congratulated Josep Borrell on assuming the position of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Wang Yi said, the new EU institutions are determined to make progress and refreshing changes are already underway. It is believed that the new EU institutions will promote a more united, stable, open and prosperous EU. President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have held telephone talks with President Charles Michel and President Ursula von der Leyen respectively. The China-EU relations are undergoing a smooth transition. We are willing to have sound interactions and establish close working contacts with the new EU institutions as soon as possible.

Wang Yi delivered three important messages on China-EU relations:

First, China’s policy towards Europe is highly continuous and stable. Whether the EU is in good times or in bad times, the Chinese side will, as always, firmly support the European integration process, the EU's unity and growth and Europe's more important role in international affairs. This is the Chinese side’s strategic choice rather than an expedient, and it will not be affected by any temporary incident. Since China and Europe are two major forces, two large markets and two great civilizations in the world today, we have same or similar views on how we see the world. We both stand for maintaining multilateralism, free trade, the authority of the United Nations, and international law and the basic norms of international relations, and are committed to promoting a multi-polar world and democracy in international relations.

Second, there is more consensus than divergence and more cooperation than competition between the two sides. We are partners, not rivals. There is no historical grievance or geopolitical contradiction between China and the EU, let alone conflict of fundamental interests. China’s growth and revitalization means greater strength for peace and justice. China’s 1.4 billion population is now heading towards modernization, which is not only a huge progress of human civilization, but will also provide a greater market and development space for the EU. China and the EU have always been each other’s largest trading partners and important investment destinations for each other. European exports to China created 4 million jobs in European countries in total each year, and European companies produced and sold 7 million vehicles in China last year. Besides, there are 600 round-trip flights between China and Europe every week. It can be said that China and the EU have become an inseparable community of interests. Due to different historical and cultural backgrounds and development models of social systems, it is normal for us to have some differences. However, differences should not be obstacles to exchanges between us, instead, they should be the driving forces for mutual learning. The Chinese side opposes the interference in China’s internal affairs, as it violates the basic norms of international relations. China and the EU can have exchanges and dialogues on the basis of equality and mutual respect.

Third, China-EU relations are facing valuable development opportunities. Next year marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the EU. It is also the first year for the new EU institutions as well as an important year for China-EU relations. The Summit between China and Central and Eastern European Countries will be held in China in the first half of 2020. Germany has also proposed a summit of China and the EU countries in the second half of 2020. We will also hold the 22nd China-EU Summit at an early date. These frequent high-level exchanges will certainly provide a strong impetus for bilateral cooperation. We should build on the momentum, meet each other halfway, strive to reach a China-EU investment agreement of higher level, push the integration between the Belt and Road Initiative and the EU Strategy on Connecting Europe and Asia for fruitful results, explore new cooperation in climate change, digital economy and other areas, and formulate a new blueprint for China-EU cooperation in the next five years.

Wang Yi said, China-EU relations have stood at a new historical starting point. We are willing to join hands with the EU to seize opportunities, constantly inject new connotations into China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership, and earnestly advance the construction of partnership for peace, growth, reform and civilization.

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