International ties

Decade of working closely with EU

By Fu Jing (
Updated: 2011-01-05 13:26
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Meanwhile, as Li has focused on domestic development blueprint last year and has his own interests on new energy strategy and low carbon economic growth pattern, the topic and challenges will certainly be echoed by the politicians and businesses of the three countries as they are all preparing their 2020 sustainable strategy.

However, because this is Beijing's first diplomatic effort in 2011 and it's a new decade, Li and his counterparts should have the courage to explore far beyond the typical scenario.

Against new development of global geopolitics and the lingering threat of financial crisis, they should use this chance to look back and forward, start summarizing lessons, challenges and experiences in bridging differences, strengthening the strategic partnership and seeking more solutions to ensure regional and global stability and prosperity. Of course, this kind of reflection should continue at various upcoming bilateral and multilateral diplomatic occasions and summits this year. Apart from several bilateral summits, China and EU will hold annual meetings in the later half of this year and Hu Jintao will visit France again in November to attend the G20 summit.

During the past decade, China has entered into "economic and trade"marriages with EU and its member states. One lesson is that when EU and its member states firmly observe China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, their robust economic and trade marriage bonds can be enhanced. Otherwise, honeymoon will be short.

After the financial crisis, China, EU and its member states are making great efforts to bring the relationship back on the right track. Momentum is still gathering steam and most of them don't want to spoil the chances of growing in tandem with each other.

On a political and strategic level, after the politicians of China and EU built an all-around partnership in 2001, they started to seek an all-around strategic partnership in 2003.

But so far, the two sides still lack enough political trust, with Beijing criticizing European politicians for being short of understanding China and its development patterns. Beijing also pointed out that sometimes, EU and some European countries fall short on diplomatic independence, siding with the US on some issues such as China's market economy status and lifting the arms embargo.

For Europeans, they believed that the global power has shifted east. With a mindset of zero-sum game, some even complained that China's growth has limited their development space.

And some Europeans criticized that Chinese have become more arrogant and assertive on the global stage.

In spite of mounting differences and risks in European markets, China has been sending groups of business delegations to the financial debt crises-hit countries since early 2009, helping hundreds of European companies and factories revive and thousands of Europeans get back to work.

Without more debates, Beijing is using actions to show its political willingness and sincerity in times of hardship and difficulty. Greeks have said that China's coming to invest and buy T-bonds is a miracle for them as the debt storms had already pushed their country to the brink of bankruptcy last year.

During his visit, Vice Premier Li, coincidentally, whose last overseas tour was also in Europe at the end of January 2010, can frankly exchange ideas with the European politicians on China's role in helping them exit crises. And he should be well prepared to offer answers to any questions regarding China's peaceful rise globally and harmonious development at home.

Beijing has long respected European countries' long-lasting pursuit of peace and their creation of EU. On various occasions, Beijing has compared it to China's opening and reform drive, saying they are "two historic issues"of the latter half of the last century that has increased global peaceful forces.

So, in addition to Europe's role as trade partners, market, and sources of technologies and driver of the world economy, the long pursuit of peace has laid a solid foundation for Beijing to cooperate with its European partners.

Li and his colleagues will persuade the three countries to cooperate with Beijing and contribute to global peace and prosperity in the new decade.

(Fu Jing is Brussels Chief Correspondent of China Daily and he can be reached via

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