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Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Wu Hailong at the Opening Ceremony of the 12th EU-China Round Table

(11 April 2013, Brussels)

Respected President Staffan Nilsson,
Chairman Feng Guoqin,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very happy to attend the 12th EU-China Round Table between the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and China Economic and Social Council (CESC).

The EU-China Round Table is an important exchange mechanism between China and Europe in the area of economic and social development. In the course of the last six years, the two sides have successfully held 11 dialogues, covering extensive areas including trade, investment, circular industry, economic and social rights, aging society, social security, climate change, sustainable development, energy policy, urbanization, water resources, regional development, and green economy. The round tables have generated valuable advisory knowledge to benefit policy making and have facilitated China-EU cooperation in these areas, making the round tables an integral part to our comprehensive strategic partnership.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This year celebrates the 10th anniversary of the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership. Thanks to the concerted efforts, the two sides have achieved fruitful results of cooperation over the past decade. We have successfully built an architecture of exchange and communication guided by the China-EU Summit, underpinned by the three pillars-the High Level Strategic Dialogue (HSD), Economic and Trade Dialogue (HED), and People-to-People Dialogue (HPPD), and implemented through over 60 sector-specific dialogues. Trade volume between China and Europe has more than tripled to 546 billion US dollars from 10 years ago. For nine years in a row, the EU has been ranked as China's largest trading partner. People-to-people exchange has also grown with strong momentum. Last year, over 1.5 million Chinese chose to visit Europe as their first destination abroad. Over 200,000 Chinese students are studying in Europe. More than 30,000 European students are attending schools in China. Everyday, more than 70 flights link Chinese and European cities together. Few people could imagine these achievements 10 years ago. For the world's largest developing country and the biggest group of developed countries, the relations between China and Europe have extended far beyond bilateral context and into areas such as counter-terrorism, nonproliferation, fight against piracy, climate change, the Iranian nuclear issue, the United Nations, the G20, and other multilateral settings, where we have cooperated well and communicated effectively.

China has been a strong supporter for European integration. Since the outbreak of the European debt crisis, China has acted with consistency in expressing firm confidence on the Euro and the European Union. Through both bilateral and multilateral channels, we have supported Europe in a manner fair to our strength. We do so because we believe that a united and stable Europe serves the interest of both China and the rest of the world. Likewise, we also hope that Europe could be more open-minded towards the development of China, as a stable and prosperous China also serves the interest of Europe and beyond.

At the moment, Europe is strongly committed to austerity and growth in equal measures, targeting competitive edge through deeper economic structural reform. China is stepping up its efforts to change economic growth pattern to deliver sustainable growth. Our aspiration to build a moderately prosperous society aligns perfectly well with Europe's 2020 Strategy in terms of both the timeline and the strategic goal. We must seize this historic opportunity. It is estimated that over the next five years, China will import 10 trillion dollars worth of commodities, invest 500 billion dollars overseas, and send over 400 million tourists abroad. China and Europe enjoy strong economic complementarity. With China continues to develop, our demand for European products and technology will keep growing. As the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang rightly put it, there will be amazing results when the European technology meets the Chinese market.

In the meantime, Chinese investment in Europe is registering burgeoning growth. Last year, China has become Germany's largest foreign investor. For countries like Belgium, last year also recorded a net-inflow of investment from China. Our cooperation has indeed become a source of strength as Europe navigates through the crisis and achieves growth. We are both beneficiaries of globalization. Opposing protectionism is our shared commitment. When confronted with trade problems, we should refrain from willful adoption of remedy measures. Instead, we should cherish what we have achieved and try to address the problems with a constructive approach, so as to consolidate the confidence and determination to further cooperation with win-win results.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In China, we are aware of our difference from Europe in history, tradition, social system, and development level. But we should not allow such difference to hold us back in our pursuit for stronger ties and cooperation. In this diverse world, difference should not be the cause for exclusion, still less the drag on our relations and mutual trust, but should be the driving force for inclusiveness and mutual learning. We must develop a habit of viewing our relations from strategic height and long-term perspective. We must remain committed to peace, development, and cooperation, use dialogue to promote better understanding, and use consultation to resolve disputes. I strongly believe that by upholding the principles of mutual respect, mutual benefit, win-win progress, and seeking common ground while shelving differences, we can deliver a bright future for China-EU ties.

The European Economic and Social Committee is an important advisory institution of the European Union, representing the interests of employers, labor unions, and other economic entities. The Committee plays a unique role in the EU's economic and social affairs. Previously, policy makers on both sides have benefited immensely from the round tables on issues of urbanization, green economy, and other key areas of China-EU cooperation. I strongly hope that participants of this round table can continue to leverage the intellectual strength in these areas, identify new opportunities for growth, and bring more real benefits to our two peoples.

To conclude, I wish the 12th EU-China Round Table a complete success. Thank you!

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