During his ongoing European trip, Premier Li Keqiang has made it clear that China is keen to achieve a breakthrough in its cooperation with Europe.
In his keynote speech at the sixth Hamburg Summit on Oct 11 in Germany, Li said “everything is possible” when the world’s biggest emerging market and biggest developed economy join hands.
China’s top leaders have made multiple European trips this year.
This is Li’s second trip to Europe this year, following a visit to Britain and Greece in June. He just arrived in Russia on Oct 13 after a few days in Germany, and will go to Italy to visit the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome and attend the 10th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit in Milan.
Li followed the steps of President Xi Jinping, who toured four European countries and visited the headquarters of the European Union (EU) in March.
Interactions between the opposite ends of the vast Eurasian Continent have had a complicated history.
The influence used to be one-way. European colonists left a tragic mark in China with wars and concessions, but new ideas and technologies from Europe also expanded the country’s horizons and brought about dramatic political and social changes in the last century.
In more recent years, trade has dominated the exchange. For instance, the EU is China’s largest trade partner, while China is the EU’s second-largest trade partner. Premier Li said in his speech that, in the 20 minutes he had spoken, several million U.S. dollars had changed hands between Chinese and European traders.
China is looking for more. In Germany, the premier said the China-Germany relationship is beyond a “simple buyer-seller one.” This is also true for China-European ties.
China hopes to upgrade business ties from their traditional import and export focus. After years of industrial development, Chinese firms have a competitive edge and are looking forward to an open European market. Chinese investors would like to invest in Europe, and to invest with European partners in other markets.
More importantly, China is eager to work with Europeans in cutting-edge areas, such as space technology and eco-friendly industries, as well as the service sector, for which China has the market and Europe has the know-how.
There are also geopolitical and security reasons for closer China-Europe relations.
The Eurasian Continent has never been short of disputes. Many of these disputes are nowhere near resolution, and some conflicts are even worsening. As important players in the picture, Europe and China can positively impact these situations if they know each other better, trust each other more and work closely together.
In the end, the cooperation will help shape a Europe-Asia community of shared interests and stability.