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Address by H.E. Ambassador Wu Hailong at the Opening of the International Conference "EU-China Soft Diplomacy"
Working Together to Realize Shared Dream


Secretary General Stahl, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I'm very happy to join you here in the Committee of the Regions today and share with you my views on China-EU relations. As I read through the Program, I find that there is a wide range of issues to be discussed, covering China-EU political relations, urbanization, environment, regional cooperation, and people-to-people exchange. In that context, I hope that my comments on these issues will offer our experts some useful perspectives and reference in your later-on discussions.

This year celebrates the tenth anniversary of the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership. In the course of past ten years, we have built a solid and comprehensive basis for our rapidly growing relationship, which is now extensive, multi-tiered, and all-directional, as sustained by the three pillars-political, economic, and people-to-people exchange-and by over 60 dialogue and cooperation mechanisms. Our practical cooperation has been moving forward in steady steps. For nine years in a row, the EU has remained China's biggest trading partner. Despite the unfavorable global economic environment, we registered 546 billion US dollars of bilateral trade last year, more than four times the level of a decade earlier. In the face of the sovereign debt crisis, China has supported Europe's efforts to recover and grow through speedy acceleration of investment in Europe. On regional hotspot issues and global issues such as economic governance and climate change, the two sides have also maintained close communication, and have developed a strong foundation for international cooperation.

We are particularly encouraged by our remarkable accomplishments in people-to-people exchange. Home to ancient civilizations, China and Europe share strong traditions of enriching human civilization, and have conducted diverse and extensive forms of exchange throughout history. In recent years, we have worked together to tap deeper into this area to release the potential, and as a result, have established people-to-people exchange as the third pillar for China-EU relations, complementing the political and business pillars. We have organized the EU-China Year of Youth, Year of Intercultural Dialogue, as well as thematic year events between China and EU member states. These activities have been extremely helpful in bringing the two peoples together. Last year, over 1.5 million Chinese chose Europe as their first destination to visit abroad. Over 200,000 Chinese students are going to schools in Europe. More than 70 flights are scheduled daily between Chinese and European cities. Through these interactions, today the people in China and Europe understand each other much better. Therefore, I believe that to continue growing our relations, we must combine both the traditional diplomatic approach and the non-traditional, the soft-diplomacy approach, which are mutually reinforcing.

Not long ago, a new generation of leaders have assumed the duty to lead China. They have proposed a vision known as the Chinese dream, a shared aspiration of all Chinese people: by 2020, double the GDP and income for urban and rural residents based on the 2010 level and build a moderately prosperous society in all respects; by 2050, make China a modernised socialist country that is strong, prosperous, democratic, culturally advanced, and harmonious. In the last three decades, China has maintained a 10% annual economic growth rate. The size of our economy has increased by 18 times to become the world's second biggest, and per capita income for urban and rural residents over 30 times, lifting 600 million people out of poverty, contributing 70% to global poverty reduction efforts. With our efforts to boost domestic demand and overseas investment, we expect the Chinese economy will keep the sound growth momentum going forward. It is estimated that in the next five years, China will import 10 trillion dollars of products, invest 500 billion dollars overseas, and send over 400 billion person-times tourists abroad. These numbers mean enormous business opportunities for Europe and the rest of the world.

The path to achievement is never easy. The closer we get towards our goal, the more it becomes necessary for us to work hard and seek support from our partners. One important aspect of the Chinese dream is that we want to share our growth and prosperity with people from all over the world. We want to make sure that as we realize the Chinese dream, we are also creating opportunities for Europe to realize its own dream for unity, stability, and prosperity.

In order to realize our shared vision for the future, we must do three things.

First, we must strengthen strategic mutual trust. An ancient Chinese philosopher Mencius once said, he who loves others is constantly loved by them; he who respects others is constantly respected by them. Equality and mutual respect are fundamental to mutual trust. China has full confidence in the prospect of the EU and firmly supports its efforts to build a stronger union, to address the debt crisis, and to play an active role in international affairs. We hope that the EU side will view China's development and China-EU relations with strategic perspective, and respect and support our choice of development path based on China's national conditions. I believe that working together, we can pioneer an even stronger partnership between China and Europe with exemplary merits of equality and mutual respect.

Second, we must share opportunities for growth. We must make good use of the opportunities presented by China's 12th Five Year Plan and Europe's 2020 Strategy, identify areas where we can cooperate, and come up with medium- and long-term action plans. We should start the negotiation for a mutual investment agreement at an early date, promote two-way trade and investment, and tap deep into the cooperation potentials in urbanization, high tech, and green economy. We should keep our markets open, oppose protectionism, and strive to build an open, relaxed, and facilitating environment for business.

Third, we must properly manage our differences and problems. Given the rapid expansion of our trade links, which is good news, we have also in recent years found ourselves in some negative stories in our business cooperation. We in China look at these problems with a sense of maturity. Instead of walking away from these problems or getting ourselves into quarrels or confrontation, we believe the true way out is dialogue. We should never let local differences affect the overall landscape of the our cooperation. Willful adoption of punitive measures against one another will take us to nowhere. Only by working together constructively can we deliver win-win results and keep up the growth momentum of our ties.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The China-EU relationship is now positioned on a new starting point. We have all reasons to feel confident about its future. In a few days, High Representative Ashton will go to China as the first EU leader we receive since the new leadership in China took office. Her visit will also mark the beginning of this year's high-level exchange between China and the EU. I strongly believe that guided by the spirit of equality, mutual trust, cooperation, and win-win progress, we will turn over a new page in China-EU strategic partnership.

Thank you!


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