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This is how China, EU must proceed

Updated: 2013-12-11 07:20
( China Daily)

Comment on "Blueprint tightens EU links" (China Daily, Nov 22)

I had the privilege of being in China just before the EU-China negotiations. Besides delivering lectures at the Academy of Governance and the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, I had some attention-grabbing conversations with senior Chinese academics about the sweeping changes - as China Daily termed it in the article - announced by the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee in mid-November.

What China Daily has written is factual and may well be wished for. However, after reading the article, one feels that what actually happened during the China-EU meeting was the reaffirmation of political hope rather than the putting in place of practical, hands-on bilateral measures, which are, in my opinion, more needed. The numbers China Daily has given are, of course, remarkable, and the comments made by the leaders are welcome and well-placed, yet China and Europe both need to take more specific and perhaps also better targeted actions.

To achieve what has been promised and what could best serve the interests of both the Chinese and European peoples, there is need to hold immediate and frequent seminars, forums, exchange of information and setting up of working groups on various well-targeted issues. These are the most important action points to start implementing the desired changes.

Make no mistake that the attitude of "we tell them what should be done and how" is not only arrogant but also self-aggrandizing. The European "we-know-how" may be slightly more elegant than the American "we-tell-you-how", though. China is not and will never be accustomed to them.

It is not only the European Union as a whole, not even the European Commission as such, that should carry on long-promising deals with China. EU member states are perhaps better suited for that, not because European disintegration is on the horizon - which not for a moment I believe - but because China's internal cohesive character is different from other emerging economies.

The EU's role is vital but the implementation depends more on its member states and, therefore, their cooperation with China. Perhaps, cooperation is more credible between EU member states and the provinces of China.

Individuals, EU member states, academics and business interest groups should act coherently with but also independent of conventional political commitments. In my experience, a bottom-up approach works better in China.

Both the EU and China are in excessive need of direct cooperation in the fields of market liberalization, cooperation in business development and research, and innovation. Globalization should not only mean that Europeans go to China, but also Chinese academics and businesspeople come to Europe.

Pal Belenyesi, via e-mail

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(China Daily 12/11/2013 page9)