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EU-China synergy to bring prosperity for Eurasia

By David Gosset | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-02-26 09:06

This year will see intense diplomatic activity between the European Union and China.

While both sides are paving the way for two major summits, in March and September, they are also progressing toward a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, which will boost economic relations between the two partners.

The coronavirus epidemic has not affected the partnership between the EU and China. On the contrary, the crisis has given rise to concrete solidarity. European leaders did not instrumentalize the outbreak for political purposes.

Beijing and Brussels clearly recognize that the interests they share are far greater than what separates them.

Their strategic patience has been enhanced by the complexity of their internal dynamics. On one side, the EU is obliged to reimagine itself beyond Brexit. On the other side, China has entered a new phase of its long journey of civilizational renaissance.

However, Europeans and Chinese are aware of their strengths as much as of their growing interdependence. Together, they make up 25 percent of the world's population and 35 percent of the global economy. In 2019, the EU was China's largest trading partner, and China was the EU's second-largest trade partner.

Synergies between the EU and China bring stability and prosperity to the Eurasian region. An intelligent coordination of the EU's Europe-Asia Connectivity Strategy with the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative gives the 5.4 billion people living in Eurasia-almost 70 percent of the world's population-new economic and social opportunities.

A rich and coordinated Sino-European cooperation also has positive implications for Africa. One can speculate on the construct of the Indo-Pacific region, but Afro-Eurasian continuity-85 percent of mankind-is as much a historical reality as a geographic one.

A renewed Sino-European strategic partnership would be inclusive, for it presupposes the harmonization of differences, and, therefore, is not structurally against the United States.

It is the moral duty of European and Chinese leaders to point to the dangers that the US regression toward unilateralism and new forms of nationalism poses for the world.

In this context, European and Chinese diplomats should collaborate for the reform of major multilateral institutions. The marginalization of the World Trade Organization or of the United Nations at a time when they are most needed is a trend that has to be reversed.

The EU and China are already engaged in a wide range of cooperation. However, articulating their respective strategies for a green deal and an ecological civilization should become their top priority.

Europe becoming the world's first climate-neutral continent by 2050 is what structures the action of Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission. In parallel, President Xi Jinping has rightly put environmental sustainability at the center of China's agenda.

Should the two forces synergize, Eurasia could lead the world on a path to qualitative development with an entirely new growth strategy.

Our rapidly changing world is in need of environmental and humanistic, but also social, rebalancing. When it comes to the right equation between social justice and economic efficiency, European and Chinese societies are powerful laboratories.

While they reinvent themselves, cultivating with wisdom their relationship, European and Chinese citizens should be increasingly aware that they are essential to a world whose future depends on the diversity they embody.

The author is a Sinologist and founder of the Europe-China Forum. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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