Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Pearls shine brighter together

By Song Tao (China Daily) Updated: 2013-11-20 06:42

Harmony without uniformity and united in diversity are two sides of the same China-EU coin of cooperation

The 16th China-EU Summit will soon be held in Beijing at the tenth anniversary of the establishment of China-EU Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

 Pearls shine brighter together

A passerby uses his smartphone to take a picture of the euro sign landmark in front of the headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt September 2, 2013. [Photo/Agencies] 

Over the past decade, progress has been made on political, economic and cultural fronts - the three pillars of China-EU relations. The two sides have established political dialogue mechanisms, and quadrupled two-way trade and people-to-people exchanges. We have been working together to resolve global and regional hotspot issues, playing a constructive role in maintaining world peace and stability. This relationship has become one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world.

The Third Plenum of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China has just concluded, and in the coming decade, both China and the EU will move forward from a new beginning. China is determined to comprehensively deepen reform and increase openness with greater political courage and wisdom so as to realize the two centennial goals, namely, to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects when the Communist Party of China celebrates its centenary in 2021 and turn China into a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious when the People's Republic of China marks its centennial in 2049, and fulfill the Chinese dream of the great renewal of the Chinese nation. On the part of the EU, the European economy is now stabilizing and is exhibiting a positive momentum, as it has begun to move out of the shadow of the sovereign debt crisis. The dividends from development in both China and the EU will usher in a new decade of opportunities for relations between the two sides.

China, the largest developing country, and the EU, the largest grouping of developed countries, are two important global players. Both China and the EU stand for multilateralism and democracy in international relations and both are committed to solving international disputes through diplomatic negotiations. What they have in common makes China and the EU important cooperative partners driving the world toward multi-polarity and addressing global challenges. In the face of complex and profound changes in the international situation, the two sides need to work together for a more just and reasonable international political and economic order and make greater contributions to world peace and prosperity.

With a population of 1.3 billion and 500 million respectively, China and Europe represent two big markets, accounting for one-third of global economic output. The two sides have much to offer each other economically, with their interests closely interconnected. The process of economic transformation and upgrading in both China and the EU will surely generate huge potential for cooperation in such areas as trade, investment, urbanization, scientific and technological innovation, environmental protection and infrastructure development. Our joint commitment to an open market, trade liberalization and investment facilitation and opposition to all forms of protectionism will also give new impetus to the development of an open global economy.

China and Europe are major cradles of world civilizations, representing an outstanding part of Eastern and Western civilizations. They add radiance to one another like two shining pearls located at two ends of the Eurasian continent. The history of exchanges between Chinese and European civilizations was started with the Silk Road and lasted for thousands of years. It has presented a grand picture of inclusiveness and mutual learning among different cultures.

In today's world where cultural diversity is being advocated, we need to borrow from both the philosophy of the West and the wisdom of the East. China calls for "harmony without uniformity" and the building of a "harmonious world", an idea connected and mutually compatible with the concept of being "united in diversity" advocated by Europe. The two sides have every reason to approach each other with greater inclusiveness, respect the development path chosen by the other side based on their different national conditions, and carry forward their friendship. By doing so, we will set up a fine example of mutual learning and common prosperity between different civilizations.

Undoubtedly, some problems, old and new, do exist in the development of China-EU relations. But the differences in histories, cultural traditions, social systems and economic development levels should not stand in the way of flourishing China-EU ties. The two sides need to uphold the principles of mutual respect, treating each other as equals, seeking common ground and win-win cooperation while shelving differences, and effectively managing problems and differences. We need to resolve problems and rise above differences so as to realize common development.

The China-EU Summit is the mechanism for political dialogue between the two sides at the highest level. The upcoming 16th Summit will be the first one to be held between the new Chinese government and the EU, which will draw an excellent blueprint for the future development of China-EU relations. I believe that in the coming decade, China and the EU will upgrade their practical cooperation to better serve each other's development purposes and jointly make greater contributions to fostering a peaceful and prosperous world.

The author is vice-minister of Foreign Affairs of China.

(China Daily 11/20/2013 page8)

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