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Remarks by Charge d'Affaires Wang Hongjian At the Opening Ceremony of the Ninth Europe-China Forum

Work Together to Take China-EU Relations

To a Higher Level in the New Era

19 November 2019, Friends of Europe

Your Excellency President Wu Hailong,.

Managing Director Gunnar Wiegand,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


Good morning. At the outset, on behalf of the Chinese Mission to the EU and Ambassador Zhang Ming, I wish to offer my congratulations on the opening of the 9th China-Europe Forum. This forum could not have come at a better time. In the past months, there have been quite a few important positive developments in China-EU relations. The forum gives us an opportunity to look back and take stock of those developments. In view of the incoming EU institutions, this forum also allows us to look ahead and share ideas on the future development of China-EU relations.

China-EU relations are showing a good momentum for development. This year, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and other leaders made multiple visits to Europe. Quite a number of leaders of the EU and its member states went to China. It is particularly worth noting that the 21st China-EU Summit last April produced a number of important outcomes, marked by a rich and substantial joint statement which sets timeframes for China-EU cooperation in key areas. Earlier this month, China and the EU announced the conclusion of the negotiations on the geographical indications agreement. It represents another harvest of China-EU economic and trade cooperation. In the recent rounds of negotiations on the investment agreement, both sides demonstrated the political commitment and pragmatic attitude to accelerate the talks, with a view to concluding an ambitious agreement in 2020. We signed two major agreements on civil aviation. We had good dialogues on ocean, defense, security, ICT, among other topics. We maintain close communication on regional hotspots and issues concerning global governance, such as climate change and sustainable development. Together, China and the EU have sent a strong message: we are committed to multilateralism and an open world economy.

There are some European friends who believe that the progress in some areas could be hardly satisfactory, or that China has not done enough to honor its commitments of opening-up, leading to a promise fatigue. In this regard, I wish to emphasize three points.

First, China is pushing reform and openness of its own accord, and has achieved remarkable results. According to the Doing Business Report 2020 released by the World Bank, China is ranked 31st, up by 15 places from last year’s ranking of 46th, joining the world's top ten most improved economies for ease of doing business for the second year in a row. In the last two years, China launched new major measures of opening-up almost every one or two months. A recent example is the issuance of a regulation on optimizing the business environment last month. In all fairness, in a global environment of rising protectionism, China's determination, intensity and speed to open its doors still wider are rare and deserve recognition.

Secondly, while urging China to be more open, the EU itself must keep to the basic principles of market economy and treat Chinese companies in a fair, equitable and non-discriminatory manner. On the 5G issue, it is advisable that the EU make a facts-based, fair and independent assessment that truly serves its own interests. Last month, the China Chamber of Commerce in the EU released the first report on the development of Chinese enterprises in Europe. According to this report, Chinese companies in the EU are facing increasing uncertainty as a result of stricter screening of foreign investment. There is discriminatory treatment against Chinese companies in such areas as energy, science and technology. I hope these voices could be taken seriously by the EU side.

Thirdly, the fulfillment of any agenda in China-EU relations must call for concerted efforts of both sides toward a win-win solution. It is normal that there are differences, which must be treated with an open mind. We need to manage the differences, and strive to solve them by building consensus. China will continue to do the right things and to work with the EU with utmost sincerity to implement the agreed agenda.

Ladies and Gentlemen,


Looking back helps to plan ahead. As President Juncker said, “In an increasingly unsettled world, Europe's partnership with China is more important than ever before. We should continue on this path of cooperation.” Next year, China and the EU will celebrate the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties. There will be important items on the political agenda ahead. We must keep the good momentum of China-EU relations and bring them to a higher level.

We need to further enhance political trust in each other. China firmly supports European integration, supports the unity and development of the EU, and supports a greater role of the EU in international affairs. This policy commitment does not target any third party, nor it is a choice of expediency. We hope that the new EU leadership will keep its China policy independent, consistent and forward-leaning, exercise prudence on matters concerning China’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and do more things that help build trust between China and the EU.

We need to make the pie of China-EU cooperation bigger and more substantial and add new ingredients to it. On economy and trade, in addition to the investment agreement, we had better launch the FTA process at an early date. At least, we could start a joint feasibility study first. We believe that the conditions and ambitions are both ready. On connectivity, China and the EU need to take concrete actions to synergize their respective initiatives. We could consider launching a few pilot projects in key areas, and stepping up dialogue on rules and standards. We need to further enrich our cooperation on science and innovation, in an effort to show that it is not helpful to stifle the flow of knowledge or to create the technology divide. We need to strengthen cooperation on green development and the fight against climate change. This will add new impetus and highlights to China-EU relations, but also give a strong pushback against unilateralism and protectionism and give a boost to multilateralism and the improvement of global governance.

Ladies and Gentlemen,


As comprehensive strategic partners, China and the EU do not have fundamental conflict of interest. Our relations are defined by cooperation. Convergences prevail over divergences. I hope that throughout this morning, you could offer more ideas and recommendations for China-EU cooperation and management of differences, thus contributing to the sound and steady growth of China-EU relations in the coming years.

To conclude, I wish the forum a great success. Thank you.

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