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Visit adds 'new impetus' to relations

By WANG MINGJIE/WANG LINYAN | China Daily | Updated: 2022-12-05 07:52

China-EU ties highlighted, paving way for bilateral cooperation, experts say

A visit to China by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, injects new impetus into China-EU engagement, analysts say.

Michel visited China on Thursday at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. It followed a trip to China by Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz early last month and talks with France's President Emmanuel Macron in Bali in mid-November.

"There is no coincidence for two of the most influential leaders from the EU paying official visits to China in such a short time," said Christopher Bovis, a professor of international business law at the University of Hull, England.

"The diplomatic environment signs indicate a change in the air, a change which could reopen cooperation and rapprochement in both economic and political issues.

"Things are changing quickly in geopolitics, and the EU realizes that China should not only be a pivotal trade partner but a crucial security ally for global governance considerations."

The visit is "the prelude to a new chapter" in the relationship between the EU and China, Bovis said.

"This relationship will move much faster than the previously well-versed economic approach and embrace global governance issues, including security and safety and harmonious existence between nations."

Michel's visit produced the first official meeting between leaders of China and the EU since the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October, and it is widely expected to be a significant step for China and Europe to deepen relations and promote high-level collaboration.

Chris Rudd, deputy vice-chancellor and head of the Singapore campus of James Cook University in Australia, said: "The visit sends a powerful signal about future cooperation. It is likely that back channels have been in play for some time in order to encourage China's important role in preventing nuclear escalation, but the formal visit now sends a global, political message that the partnership is back on track.

Dialogue seen as critical

"Dialogue is critical to avoiding a global meltdown. Despite the periodic posturing by some Western leaders to play to their right-leaning base, it is critical to the West that China remains in the tent."

Wang Dingnan, a policy analyst at the consultancy Western-Eastern Analysis in Berlin, said that by sending an invitation to Michel and holding talks with many European heads of state or government, "Beijing has shown the sincerity of maintaining an onward and upward momentum in its relationship with the EU".

Through Michel's visit, "the EU also conveyed its goodwill of furthering relations with China by promoting dialogue and cooperation in the spirit of mutual respect and candor", Wang said.

"The visit is to give new impetus to EU-China engagement at various fields and levels, as seen in recent months, and a gradual resumption of bilateral exchanges have already taken place in the academic and business sectors."

Harvey Dzodin, a senior fellow of the think tank Center for China and Globalization in Beijing, said: "Positive Sino-EU relations are absolutely essential for global development. Without Sino-EU cooperation, the existential issues that confront our planet can simply not be addressed. Without this cooperation, there may no longer even be a hospitable globe to share, and life as we know it could end."

During the meeting with Michel, Xi welcomed the EU's continued involvement in efforts to build a new development model for collaboration. China is willing to hold a human rights dialogue with the EU based on equality and mutual respect, he said.

Both sides have expressed their readiness to resume the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue, which has been dormant for three years, Dzodin said. "As the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

"So I believe that there's a reasonable chance for the reactivation of this dialogue to eventually lead to renewing discussions of the Comprehensive Agreement on Investments between China and the EU."

Contact the writers at wangmingjie@mail.chinadailyuk.com.


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