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Premier Li’s visit injects new vitality into China-Europe relations

Updated: Oct 18,2014 4:25 PM     Xinhua

Premier Li Keqiang attends the closing ceremony of the Asia-Europe Meeting in Milan, Italy, on Oct 17. [Photo by Rao Aimin/Xinhua]

BEIJING -- Premier Li Keqiang’s just-concluded visit to Germany, Russia and Italy proves to be a successful tour injecting vigor and vitality into the development of China-Europe relations.

The visit ended on Oct 18, highlighting innovation and practical cooperation, saw multi-billion-dollar deals and concrete roadmaps for future cooperation between China and the three countries.

Strengthened partnership

Li’s visit in Germany, the major European economic powerhouse and a vital member of the European Union, featured intensive talks and multiple deals on innovation cooperation between the two countries.

Li and German Chancellor Angela Merkel co-chaired the third round of China-Germany governmental consultations and agreed to lift their countries’ all-around strategic partnership to a higher level.

They endorsed a comprehensive program of action for strengthening bilateral cooperation, which Li said lays out a strategic blueprint for the two countries to deepen their cooperation in various fields in the next five to 10 years.

On the economic front, the document said China and Germany are committed to reaching a China-EU investment agreement with high targets, which will serve as the basis for negotiations for a China-EU free trade agreement in the future.

During Li’s visit, China and Germany inked 18.1 billion U.S. dollars worth of trade, investment and technological cooperation deals.

During his stay in Moscow, Li and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, witnessed the signing of about 40 agreements after holding the 19th China-Russia Prime Ministers’ Regular Meeting.

A local currency swap deal worth 150 billion yuan (24.4 billion U.S. dollars) between the central banks of China and Russia was among the documents signed, read a statement issued by the People’s Bank of China.

China would like to enhance cooperation with Russia on major investment projects in such fields as mining, chemical industry, agriculture and infrastructure construction, Li said in his talks with Medvedev.

China is also ready to advance the establishment of a Eurasian high-speed transport corridor linking Beijing and Moscow, Li said, adding that the current priority should be the high-speed railway between Moscow and Kazan.

Meanwhile, China will deepen cooperation with Russia in nuclear power and energy in an integrated way that covers upstream, midstream and downstream industries, the Chinese premier said.

In Rome, Chinese and Italian companies signed deals worth 8 billion euros (more than 10 billion dollars), a highlight of Li’s visit to Italy.

Appearing together with his Italian counterpart, Matteo Renzi, at an event attended by members of the Chinese-Italian committee of entrepreneurs and other businesspeople from the two countries, Li said the deals, mainly covering two-way investment and technological and financial cooperation, have gone beyond the traditional buy-and-sell model to demonstrate high-level coordination between the two countries.

Highlighting innovation cooperation

Innovation cooperation is another highlight of Li’s three-nation Europe tour.

China and Germany agreed to deepen innovation cooperation in industry, urbanization, agriculture and other fields.

They agreed to expand dialogue within the framework of the bilateral innovation policy platform, which would be used to enhance mutual understanding of each other’s national innovation systems, promote two-way investment in research and development, and strengthen cooperation on special future-oriented issues and projects.

The fourth China-Germany innovation policy platform meeting, to be held in the first half of 2015 in Berlin, will be an important milestone, says a program of action endorsed by the two sides.

The importance of innovation was also observed by the German side. Merkel said prioritizing innovation cooperation will vigorously push forward the development of bilateral ties in the future.

In Moscow, the Chinese premier attended an international forum themed on innovation, saying that as economic globalization and informatization advance, all countries need to work together to achieve multiplication of knowledge and value through innovation cooperation.

“We need to open up to, cooperate and share with each other to achieve such innovation,” Li said.

On China, he said the country has opened itself to the outside world and kept on raising the degree and level of its opening-up, which in return promotes reform and enhances competitiveness and the capacity of innovation.

“China always needs to learn from other countries and bring in advanced technologies and management know-how,” Li said.

In the Italian city of Milan, Li told a conference under the framework of the China-Italy innovation week program that China is willing to enhance innovation cooperation with Italy in areas including science and technology, industrial design and manufacturing.

He noted that the two countries signed a series of cooperation deals during his visit, with science and technology innovation being an important part.

Through concerted efforts, innovation cooperation between China and Italy will make greater contribution to the economic and social development of the two great civilizations, Li said.

Promoting pragmatic international cooperation

Li attended the sixth Hamburg Summit during his stay in Germany. The meeting, drawing a fleet of political, economic and academic leaders, discussed key issues in China-Europe economic relations.

Over 500 participants from China and Europe gathered at the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce and exchanged views through 10 keynote speeches and panel discussions.

Topics at the summit covered future of bilateral trade cooperation, China’s increasing investment in Europe, urbanization as part of the Chinese reform strategy, China’s greening economy and how to increase the popularity of Chinese brands.

Li’s visit to Italy also came on the eve of the World Food Day, which falls on Oct. 16 every year.

In a speech at the Rome-based UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Li said his country will donate 50 million dollars in the next five years.

The new fund from the Chinese government, said the premier, will be used to promote South-South cooperation.

As the biggest developing country in the world, China will always be an active force in maintaining food security, and is ready to work with other countries to create a hunger-free and poverty-free world with sustainable development, he added.

The Chinese premier said hunger relief and poverty reduction, two major challenges to the whole world, are a shared responsibility of the international community.

China’s fresh efforts and initiatives to enhance pragmatic international and regional cooperation also highlighted the 10th Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit in Milan, amid calls by other ASEM leaders for promotion of cooperation in multiple fields.

Speaking at the two-day summit, Li called on Asian and European countries to safeguard peace and security and boost interconnectivity so as to promote development of the world’s largest landmass.

He suggested that nations in the region stick to the spirit of openness, inclusiveness and shared destiny, and work together to construct a new type of Asia-Europe comprehensive partnership dedicated to peace and development.

In a three-point proposal, Li urged Asian and European countries to jointly safeguard regional peace, security and development, improve Asia-Europe interconnectivity, and further liberalize trade and investment, so as to accelerate the establishment of a Eurasian single market.

“The ASEM summit has offered a good opportunity to bring the Silk Road Economic Zone and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road conceptions into Asia-Europe cooperation,” said Cui Hongjian, director of the Department for European Studies of the China Institute of International Studies.

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