Deepened reforms and increased growth pledged by both sides after Brussels talks
China and the European Union pledged on Monday to strengthen political trust and enhance cooperation, with both sides aiming to deepen reforms and increase growth.
State Councilor Yang Jiechi and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton announced this after their two-hour High-level Strategic Dialogue meeting in Brussels.
Yang’s visit to the Belgian capital is the third high-level exchange between the two sides in recent months, following the China-EU economic and trade dialogue in October and the China-EU summit in November.
Theresa Fallon, senior associate at the European Institute of Asian Studies, said: “It seems that the Year of the Horse will see a galloping start to EU-China relations. I think both sides are ready to work toward that.”
Fallon said European economies are expected to rebound further this year, and this should be good news for China, too.
She also said that implementation of the reforms outlined by top Chinese policymakers in November will create more investment opportunities in China, particularly for European investors.
Duncan Freeman, senior research fellow at the Brussels Institute of Contemporary China Studies, said, “Despite problems in the relationship, China sees the EU as a significant global player and the bilateral relationship as one which it is important to maintain.”
Guan Chengyuan, former Chinese ambassador to the European Union and Belgium, said Sino-EU relations will have a bright future, as China is pushing for reforms and the EU is recovering from a debt crisis.
Bilateral understanding and mutual trust has been deepening, Guan said.
Beijing’s relations with many major European countries have been improved.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and France.
Both countries are working on events to enhance cultural, economic and technological exchanges to celebrate an important year in their bilateral relations.
Yang is scheduled to meet German officials on Tuesday after his visit to Brussels.
Guan said: “Relations between China and Germany have been very close and visits by top leaders are frequent. The good relationship between China and Germany also has a positive influence on China-Europe relations as a whole.”
Feng Zhongping, vice-president of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said President Xi visited Russia, the United States, African nations and many other countries last year. “This year, Europe will be in China’s diplomatic spotlight,” Feng said.
The EU has emerged as a major investment destination for Chinese companies, as it can offer experience as China deepens reforms and quickens urbanization, he said.
Axel Goethals, chief executive officer of the Brussels-based European Institute for Asian Studies, said disputes between the EU and China cropped up in the past decade on issues such as an arms embargo and trade friction over solar products.
But Goethals said that high-level talks this year may boost bilateral relations.
Goethals said China’s involvement in global affairs has helped to create a more balanced global power.
“The EU-China relationship is an engagement between two partners who share similar thoughts and have a common vision and hence are natural partners,” he said.