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Ambassador Zhang Ming Gives a Briefing on the 22nd China-EU Summit

On June 18, 2020, the Chinese Mission to the EU and the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) jointly organized a webinar on EU-China relations post COVID-19 and the 22nd China-EU Summit. Ambassador Zhang Ming attended and addressed the webinar. There were around 500 participants, including representatives of EU institutions, EU member states, diplomatic missions in the EU, international organizations, China Chamber of Commerce to the EU, and Chinese and European research institutes.

Ambassador Zhang Ming said that the 22nd China-EU Summit held next week will be the first annual summit since the inauguration of the new EU leadership, and the highest-level bilateral dialogue since the outbreak. There are three points worth mentioning in the run-up to the summit.

First, strategic trust. There have been some noises about “the battle of narratives”. Yet the nature of China-EU relations, namely mutual benefit, remains unchanged. There is no fundamental conflict of interests between China and the EU. They should not see the other as a systemic rival, still less to view cooperation through a geopolitical lens. China and the EU have carried out effective coordination in WHO and other multilateral frameworks, which shows that they have many commonalities in terms of thinking, interests and responsibilities. They could work together in even more areas.

Second, openness and cooperation. The pandemic increases the rhetoric of “decoupling”. Yet the fact that our economies are interdependent would not change. China stands ready to enhance macro-policy coordination with the EU to keep industrial and supply chains stable and strengthen cooperation in emerging areas such as green development and digital economy, thus leading the growth of the world economy. China hopes that the EU will keep to openness and cooperation, foster a fair, impartial and non-discriminatory environment for China-EU cooperation, and work with China to conclude the investment agreement on time.

Third, multilateralism. China and the EU need to jointly support WHO in playing the leading role, step up information and experience sharing, speed up vaccine and medicine development, increase the accessibility and affordability of vaccines, and explore tripartite cooperation with Africa. It is expected that through this year’s summit China and the EU will translate more consensus into action, jointly uphold multilateralism and oppose unilateralism, and contribute more to promoting international cooperation and improving global governance.

When answering a question about China’s market access, Ambassador Zhang stressed that reform and opening-up is a fundamental national policy of China and the door of China will only open wider and wider. Such direction will not change. The EU claims that multilateralism is in its DNA and upholds free trade and market-oriented principles. In recent years, however, some economic and trade measures introduced by the EU have got Chinese companies operating in the EU worried about the EU’s tendency to close doors. Direction matters more than speed when it comes to opening up. China hopes that the EU will stay committed to multilateralism, market economy, openness and cooperation.

In the webinar, Ambassador Zhang had an in-depth exchange of views with other participants on such issues as China-EU investment agreement negotiation, China-U.S-EU relations, IPR protection, WTO reform, and RMB internationalization. Speakers included Daniel Gros, economist and CEPS Director, Shada Islam, Director of Europe and Geopolitics at Friends of Europe, Huang Ping, member of the CPPCC National Committee and Executive Vice President of the Chinese Institute of Hong Kong, and Chen Xin, Deputy Director of the CASS Institute of European Studies.

The webinar was broadcast live via CGTN and social media platforms.

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