China and Germany pledged stronger cooperation in the fourth round of intergovernmental consultation held during Chancellor Angela Merkel’s China visit.
Premier Li Keqiang and Merkel co-chaired the consultation in Beijing on June 13, in which officials from 26 governmental departments of both countries reported on the latest cooperative progress in their fields.
According to a joint statement for the consultation, the two countries will work on a political settlement in Syria, strengthen dialogue on Afghanistan issue, work under the G20 framework on sustainable and balanced growth of the world economy, and continue to promote China-EU relations.
Cooperation will be expanded in education, tourism and media, with more youth exchanges focused on soccer.
The two sides will create a fair and open environment for two-way investment, and work more closely in intelligent manufacturing, finance, automobile manufacture, information technology and aviation.
They will explore cooperation in third countries, such as Afghanistan where they plan to help train mining engineers and work on disaster prevention and relief. China’s cooperation with the European Union on the Belt and Road and an Asia-Europe transportation corridor will support high-speed railway cooperation in third-country markets.
Premier Li said the two sides should raise China-Germany comprehensive strategic relations to a new high and create sound environment for the recovery of the world economy.
After the consultation, Premier Li and Merkel witnessed the signing of more than 20 cooperation deals, covering areas including trade, energy, education, and agriculture.
Premier Li said China-Germany relations are important to China-EU relations. He called on the upcoming leaders’ talks between China and the EU overcome obstacles to trade and investment.
Merkel echoed Premier Li saying she hoped the China-EU leaders’ meeting would achieve new results.
China’s top legislator Zhang Dejiang also met Merkel on the afternoon of June 13.
Zhang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s top legislature, called on legislative bodies of the two countries to learn from each other and provide a good legal environment for cooperation.
Merkel expressed willingness to promote the exchanges between the NPC and Germany’s Federal Assembly.
China-EU trade was top of the agenda. On June 13, President Xi Jinping said he hoped Germany and the EU would view competition and cooperation objectively and solve China-EU trade disputes. He called on Germany and the EU to carry out their obligations in the Article 15 of the protocol on China’s accession to the WTO as scheduled.
In his one-hour meeting with Merkel, Premier Li said it is the responsibility of all WTO members to defend the international trade system. China-EU trade with its massive employment opportunities is essential to both sides, he said.
He encouraged the EU to bear in mind the overall situation of China-EU cooperation and long-term development, address Article 15 and drop the Surrogate Country approach as scheduled.
In accordance with Article 15 of the accession protocol signed when China joined the WTO in 2001, the Surrogate Country approach expires on December 11, 2016. Yet there are voices in Europe that China is yet to meet the standard set by the EU for market economy status, and that the EU should continue with its use of a non-standard approach in anti-dumping investigations against China.
“The crux of the issue is to honor an agreement,” said Premier Li when meeting the press with Merkel.
China has kept the promises made when entering the WTO, and the EU and other parties need to keep theirs, said Premier Li.
“I believe that both China and the EU have the wisdom to handle the issue,” The Premier told reporters.
Merkel, for her part, said Germany clearly understood the obligations of Article 15. She said Germany expects the European Commission to consult with China on the issue as soon as possible, to seek a solution that both accords with WTO rules and will solve trade disputes.
On the issue of Chinese enterprises’ mergers and acquisitions in Germany, Premier Li said China and Germany are supportive and open on all legal, mutually beneficial cooperation, in line with market rules and international practice.
China’s development is a process of continual opening up to the outside world, Premier Li said.
“We will take more measures to expand opening up and create an equal, transparent and attractive investment environment for investors from home and abroad, including German businesses,” the premier said.
China supports Chinese businesses in finding German partners to explore international markets, said Premier Li.
Merkel said her government is open to Chinese enterprises’ investment in Germany, calling for more mutual investment.
The joint statement said the two sides insist on maintaining maritime order on the basis of international law including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and on freedom of navigation and overflight as stipulated in the UNCLOS. It is in both sides’ interests to keep order and regional stability.
Both sides support peaceful settlement of territorial disputes and maritime interest issues in accordance with international law, regional consensus and bilateral agreements, and welcome trust-building measures conducive to easing a tense situation.