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Remarks by Charge d'Affaires Wang Hongjian At the Eurasian Connectivity and Industrial Cooperation Forum

Work Together to Build China-EU Connectivity Partnership

November 6, 2019, International Press Center

President Joan Amorós,

Chair Antonio Tajani,

Deputy Secretary-General Zhai Zheng,

Ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of the Chinese Mission to the EU, I would like to congratulate FERRMED on hosting this forum. It is of great relevance that this forum brings together friends from Asia and Europe to discuss cooperation on connectivity. As President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said, connectivity benefits the people and the economy and creates stability and prosperity for all. People-to-people exchanges between China and Europe over the past millennia have made a rich and colorful history of connections.

At present, unilateralism and protectionism are on the rise. Globalization is confronted with headwinds. A chilling effect is looming over the world economy. China and the EU share the view that promoting connectivity serves the interests of both sides, and corresponds to the trend of the times and the common aspirations of the world, because connectivity creates a new engine of global growth, provides a new platform for international trade and investment, and offers a collective response to global challenges.

China has put forward the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) by drawing inspiration from the ancient Silk Road. The EU has launched the Strategy for Connecting Europe and Asia based on its own successful experience of integration. Both initiatives embrace openness and cooperation and are anchored in the Eurasian continent. They do not go against each other. Rather, they could go hand in hand and reinforce each other

Driven by such a shared vision and the pursuit of win-win results, Chinese and EU sides are committed to linking their respective connectivity initiatives. At the China-EU Summit held last April, both sides agreed to forge greater synergy between the BRI and the Strategy for Connecting Europe and Asia. Twenty-two European countries have signed the Belt and Road cooperation document with the Chinese government. At the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, China and several European countries signed cooperation documents on investment and financing, third-party market, and science and innovation. More and more cooperation commitments have or are being turned into actions.

The BRI has entered the stage of high-quality development. With the new EU leadership soon in place, the Strategy for Connecting Europe and Asia is gaining momentum. This presents a new opportunity for deepening China-EU cooperation on connectivity. Like sailing upstream, we will be pushed back if we don’t move forward. In face of growing uncertainties in the international environment, we must reject suspicions, and seize every opportunity to advance connectivity cooperation in a spirit of mutual trust, openness, inclusiveness and win-win results. This would contribute to a world of openness, cooperation, peace and prosperity.

China and the EU should be green partners for connectivity. China and the EU share a lot of common ground on climate change. We need to work together to build green infrastructure, forge and improve green value chains, develop international green public goods, and explore low-carbon development paths that suit actual conditions.

China and the EU should be innovation partners for connectivity. China and the EU, with respective strengths in digital economy and artificial intelligence, could step up dialogue and cooperation to build a digital Silk Road and a Silk Road of innovation. We should vigorously support Chinese and European enterprises in drawing upon each other’s strengths in such areas as circular economy, 5G and smart city, deepening value chain cooperation, and exploring new sources of economic growth.

China and the EU should be industrial partners for connectivity. Indeed, China and the EU compete in some areas, but healthy competition is conducive to industrial progress and economic development. Closing the door for fear of competition would only lead to a dead end. China and the EU account for a quarter of the world’s population and a third of the global GDP. There is ample space for businesses from both sides to bring out their best for common development. Through connectivity cooperation, China and the EU could further promote industrial cooperation and integration based on each other’s competitive edges. China has recently rolled out a host of measures to expand opening up and improve business environment. Many European enterprises are among the beneficiaries. We also expect the EU to foster a more open and fairer environment for Chinese enterprises doing business in Europe.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The rail sector is a frontrunner in China-EU cooperation on connectivity. From the Eurasian Land Bridge to the New Eurasian Land Bridge, railway has made important contributions to people-to-people and business exchanges between Asia and Europe. Most notably, the China-Europe Railway Express plays a spearheading role. As of July 2019, more than 17,000 trips had been made along the routes, connecting 51 cities in 15 European countries. The Europe-bound and China-bound services are basically in balance. Chinese and European government agencies are now conducting a joint study on sustainable rail-based transport corridors between the two sides.

Looking ahead, there is still huge potential for rail transport cooperation. We should actively promote the establishment of an international rail transport cooperation mechanism, improve services, continue to build the brand of the China-Europe Railway Express, enhance international transport capacity and efficiency, and develop a railway-based international logistics system that meets the demand for greater Eurasian connectivity. We should develop rail links of higher quality and efficiency to contribute to China-EU industrial, economic and trade cooperation, and to advance the healthy and steady growth of China-EU relations.

Finally, I wish the forum a great success. Thank you.

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