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Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Zhang Ming At the Closing Session of The First China-EU Blue Partnership Forum for the Oceans
2019/09/07

On 5th September 2019, Ambassador Zhang Ming, Head of Chinese Mission to the EU, attended the first China-EU Blue Partnership Forum for the Oceans and delivered a speech. The full text is as follows:

Commissioner Karmenu Vella,

Administrator Wang Hong,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon.

In 2017, China and the EU celebrated the Blue Year. In July 2018, the two sides established a Blue Partnership for the Oceans under the witness of Chinese and EU leaders in Beijing, the first of its kind between the EU and a non-European country. Since then, with the concerted efforts of Chinese and EU stakeholders including government officials, entrepreneurs and researchers, maritime cooperation between the two sides has made solid progress. The success of this Forum is indeed a good sign of the progress we have made.

Throughout the day, Chinese and EU participants have engaged in substantial and productive discussions on such topics as ocean governance, blue economy, and sustainable fisheries. The closing of this Forum does not put an end to exchanges of ideas. Rather, it opens up new horizons for more in-depth communication and fruitful cooperation going forward. Hopefully, even more stakeholders from both sides will come together in China next year for the second Forum, and continue contributing to the growth of China-EU blue partnership.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since ancient times, both China and Europe have had a strong attachment to the oceans. It was mainly through the ocean that China had started trade with other countries, opening the Maritime Silk Road in the south, complementing the land Silk Road in the north. China started its great endeavor of reform and opening-up 41 years ago, and its coastal cities were the first to open arms to the rest of the world. The ocean, once again, helped China reach out to the world including European partners for win-win cooperation.

Likewise, Europe also has a long tradition of navigation with advanced technologies and profound maritime culture. Just before coming here, I took a closer look at the map of Europe in my office. It is worth noting that 22 out of the 28 EU member states are coastal countries, and their population and GDP account for well over 50% of the EU’s total. The blue industry has served as a key pillar for the EU economy.

The ocean has always been a vehicle for cooperation between China and the EU. Last year, the China-EU trade went over $682 billion, about 60% of which were transported by sea. Last May, I visited the Brussels Seafood Expo. I saw a lot of Chinese aquatic businesses there and many European partners were interested in working with them. I also learned that China and the EU are the two biggest seafood consumers in the world. Of course, maritime cooperation is more than savoring our taste buds. China and the EU have joint global responsibilities and practical needs to work together on marine research, development, protection and governance.

While talking about blue cooperation, we also need to keep in mind another color: green. With the blue partnership in place, we want to work with our European partners to improve global ocean governance by making the blue economy and fishery more sustainable and jointly address such challenges as climate change, marine environment protection, and conservation and sustainable use of marine resources. We need to join forces to materialize the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. The development of the blue partnership will show and reaffirm the shared commitment of China and the EU engaging in win-win cooperation and to building a community of shared future for mankind. This would add more dimensions and colors to the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As an old Chinese saying goes, “The ocean is vast for it refuses no rivers.” The ocean is a symbol for openness and togetherness, not isolation or separation. Unfortunately, not everyone is as inclusive as the ocean. As we all could see today, some countries are resorting to unilateral and protectionist measures, or even trying to cut the already intertwined economic links and disrupting global industrial and supply chains. There is no doubt that this is highly unwise and dangerous, as it would harm the interests of all, including the interests of those who instigated the troubles in the first place. This is also as absurd as trying to build a sand wall in the middle of the ocean, which is doomed to fail.

China and the EU have a mindset as inclusive and open as the ocean. We have both win-win cooperation and healthy competition. At the end of the day, we are comprehensive strategic partners, not rivals. In face of the great changes unseen in a century and destructive acts of certain countries, China and the EU, as two forces for stability, have consensus, shared interests, and more importantly, joint responsibilities to uphold multilateralism, free trade and an open world economy. More than ever before we need to join hands.

China consistently supports European integration, a united and strong EU, as well as a more important role of Europe in international affairs. China will continue to promote cooperation with the EU in various areas in a spirit of mutual respect, mutual benefit and openness. We hope and believe that Europe would do the same. The logic is simple: we are blue partners, and blue, an iconic color for the EU, represents openness, cooperation and win-win results.

To conclude, may I wish the first China-EU Blue Partnership Forum for the Oceans a great success.

Thank you.

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