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Diplomat urges China and EU to bridge gaps

Fu Cong calls for collaboration to resolve differences, warns against protectionism

By Chen Weihua in Brussels | China Daily | Updated: 2024-03-29 09:31


China and the European Union should redouble their collective efforts to bridge gaps and differences instead of erecting walls, digging holes or creating small yards, China's top diplomat to the bloc has said.

Fu Cong, head of the Chinese Mission to the EU, made the remarks at his farewell party in Brussels on Wednesday evening.

Fu said it is not surprising that the two sides may sometimes disagree with each other on certain issues.

"The most important thing is to deal with our differences in a friendly and collaborative way. As two major powers, there is so much at stake in what we do or fail to do together," he said.

China has long proved to be a trustworthy partner with countries around the world, he said, adding that economic security will only be strengthened through more cooperation.

"Protective trade policies or instruments such as the frequent use of anti-subsidy and anti-dumping measures, under the banner of de-risking, will not advance the China-EU relationship. Neither will they benefit the long-term interests of the EU," he said.

Fu was referring to protectionist trade measures launched by the European Commission against Chinese products, notably anti-subsidy investigations into Chinese electric vehicles.

He reiterated that the EU's tripartite description of China as a partner, competitor and systemic rival is "inappropriate and does not correspond to reality".

Fu quoted Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi as saying that such characterization is "like driving to a crossroads and finding the red, yellow and green lights all on at the same time, and it can only cause confusion and distraction".

Fu described the past 15 months as China's 15th ambassador to the EU as "a rewarding experience".

He said he felt fortunate to be personally involved in expanding the cooperation across different priority areas with much success despite many challenges and hurdles. China's commitment to the comprehensive strategic partnership with the EU remains unchanged, he said.

Mutual trust

"I am very pleased to see that we have built many bridges of understanding and mutual trust, win-win cooperation and close exchanges," Fu said.

European Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, who met Fu on Tuesday, said in a message on X, "Thank you very much for your constructive cooperation and contribution to strengthening EU-China relations."

On the political front, Fu noted the several visits to China by European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and said the 24th China-EU Summit in Beijing in December was a highlight.

"The relationship has shown a strong momentum of growth since the resumption of exchanges and dialogues at all levels in 2023," he said.

On the multilateral front, Fu said China and the EU have worked closely in communication and coordination with the United Nations, the World Trade Organization and the Group of 20.

"We are making joint efforts in upholding multilateralism and improving global governance."

Fu said he was proud of the practical cooperation between the two sides, citing his first event after arriving in Brussels was to meet representatives from the Chinese and EU business communities.

China and the EU are each other's major trade partners, with $100 million worth of goods being traded every hour.

Fu said people-to-people exchanges are a key pillar of the relationship, recalling his participation in a Chinese tea culture event in Brussels, discussion on China-EU relations with scholars and journalists, and conversations with students and faculty members at Belgian universities.

China has recently offered visa-free entry for more than 10 European countries to enhance people-to-people ties, he said.

"On Friday, a new round of the China-EU High-level People-to-People Dialogue will take place in Beijing, which is bound to add new momentum to the enhancement of contracts between the people of both sides," Fu said.

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