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It's right time for China, EU to deepen cooperation

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-07-05 18:16

BRUSSELS - With the 12th G20 summit on the horizon, it's the right time for China and the European Union (EU) to deepen ties, especially in promoting free trade and tackling climate change.

The G20 summit, scheduled in the German city of Hamburg on July 7-8, is in the public gaze against the backdrop of widening cracks between the United States and the EU, as well as rising uncertainties globally.

In the run up to the summit, the leaders of the EU and its member states met in Berlin on June 29 to coordinate their positions. At a press conference after the meeting, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reaffirmed Europe's backing of free trade and the Paris Accord, saying Germany was "more committed than ever" to making both a success.

Days later, obviously sneering at US President Donald Trump's catchphrase "make America great again," the European Commission said "we will work with all partners who share our conviction that the (Paris) Agreement is necessary to make our planet great again."

"The Agreement is a key element for the modernization of the economy and industry worldwide. It is the cornerstone of global efforts to tackle climate change, and cannot be renegotiated," the commission stressed.

Since taking office in January, the Trump administration has been wrangling with the EU over such issues as free trade, burden-sharing among NATO allies and climate change.

Frustrated by Trump's first trip to Europe in late May, Merkel, addressing an election campaign in Germany's southern state of Bavaria, said the Europeans "really have to take destiny into their own hands."

In this context, it's right time for China and the EU, sharing similar positions on free trade and climate change, to deepen cooperation.

Trade is of great significance to the export-oriented EU. According to the European Commission, every one billion euros in exports support 14,000 jobs in the bloc. More than 30 million jobs depend on exports to the rest of the world -- around one in every seven jobs in the EU.

Trade has been the bedrock of China-EU relations, with the EU being China's largest trading partner, China, the EU's second largest trading partner and their average daily trade volume standing at more than 1.69 billion US dollars.

"We must work to make trade and investment free, as well as fair. The EU will support a continued commitment of the G20 to fighting protectionism and strengthening the rules-based multilateral trading system, anchored in the WTO," European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk wrote in their letter about the G20 summit to leaders of member states.

The two presidents' views resonated, to a large extent, with those of the Chinese leaders championing free trade on a host of important international occasions.

China and the EU also have similar positions in dealing with climate change. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on June 1 that the country would continue its implementation of the Paris Agreement and positively participate in the multilateral process of global climate governance.

Spokesperson Hua Chunying added that China is willing to work with the EU to strengthen practical cooperation on climate change.

There's something else worth noting: it's in China's best interest to learn from the EU's experience in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The EU has successfully decoupled its economic growth from its greenhouse gas emissions. During the 1990-2015 period, the EU's combined GDP grew by 50 percent, while total emissions decreased by 22 percent.

Both China and the EU have set ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emission by 2030. It is foreseeable that the prospects for cooperation in clean energy will be extremely broad.

It's no secret that China and the EU continue to bicker on issues like steel overcapacity, market economy status, and market openness. But these do not constitute the mainstream of China-EU relations. In the context of increasing global uncertainties, it's of greater significance than ever for China and the EU to cement their ties.

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