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Wang Yi on the Four Aspects of Developing China-Europe Union (EU) Relations

2020-08-31

On August 30, 2020 local time, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi delivered a speech entitled "Upholding the Trend of Peace and Development of Our World with Unity, Cooperation, Openness and Inclusiveness" at the French Institute of International Relations.

Wang Yi expressed, this year marks the 45th anniversary of China-EU diplomatic relations. The development of our relations over the past 45 years tells us that there is no fundamental conflict of interests between China and the EU; our cooperation far outweighs competition, and there are far more areas of common understanding than disagreements. Despite the difference in social systems, China and the EU are meant to be comprehensive strategic partners, not systemic rivals. Over the 45 years, an important experience we have gained is: China and the EU are entirely able to enhance trust through dialogues on an equal footing, achieve win-win outcomes through mutually beneficial cooperation, properly address differences through constructive communications, and jointly tackle global challenges through stronger coordination.

Wang Yi noted, President Xi Jinping pointed out that China and Europe are two major forces, two big markets and two great civilizations. What we stand for, what we oppose and what we work together on can make a difference for the world. China always values the status and role of the EU and always supports Europe in playing a greater role in international affairs. At this crucial moment of fighting COVID-19 and pursuing post-COVID-19 recovery, China and Europe should strengthen solidarity and cooperation. We should press the "continue button" to resume dialogue and cooperation across the board and act as twin engines of the world economy, to inject strong impetus to international solidarity and cooperation. To that end, I propose that we develop our partnership in the following four areas.

First, we need to build an anti-COVID-19 partnership, and promote cooperation on post-COVID-19 economic recovery. Nothing matters more than containing the virus and saving lives. China and the EU should strengthen cooperation on the development and production of vaccines, medicines and testing kits and support the WHO, Gavi and other international institutions in playing their roles. The Chinese side is willing to speed up the construction of a "fast lane" that facilitates personnel exchanges and a "green channel" for the exchange of goods, so as to help the EU's economic recovery.

Second, we need to enhance our investment partnership, and work for win-win results. China and the EU should take a flexible, practical and cooperative approach in the negotiations on the bilateral investment agreement, find a solution to the outstanding issues as early as possible, and conclude a comprehensive, balanced and high-standard agreement within this year. On that basis, the two sides need to conduct a joint feasibility study at an early date to kick-start the FTA process. China and the EU should also strengthen coordination on macro-economic policies, and conclude the China-EU 2025 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation as early as possible, to provide an institutional framework for all-round dialogue and cooperation.

Third, we need to foster a green and digital partnership, and create new growth areas of China-EU cooperation. China and the EU are highly complementary in green development and digital field, and enjoy a broad cooperation prospect. We should deepen cooperation in such areas as environmental technology, circular economy, clean energy, and sustainable finance to develop a China-EU green partnership. We should strengthen cooperation in areas like information and communications technology, artificial intelligence, e-commerce, big data, and cloud computing to forge a China-EU digital partnership, and make joint contributions to global standards and rules in the digital domain.

Fourth, we need to deepen our international partnership, and work closer in multilateral affairs. Our cooperation in climate change and multilateral cooperation has become a banner and example in bilateral cooperation, and also an exemplar for the sustainable development of the world. We should further strengthen dialogue and cooperation on climate change, biodiversity and sustainable development, and work together to tackle global challenges.

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