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Address by H.E. Ambassador Wu Hailong to the Extraordinary Meeting of the Delegation for Relations with China at the European Parliament
Promote New Development in China-EU Relations
2013/04/24

        

Mr. Rivellini, MEPs,

The magnitude 7.0 earthquake that hit China's Sichuan province this past weekend on April 20th has caused heavy loss of life and estate damage. The Chinese government has moved quickly for disaster relief. Now, the rescue work is going forward effectively. In the last couple days, we have received an outpouring of sympathy and encouragement from around the world. European Commission President Barroso has issued a statement expressing condolences and support for the Chinese side, demonstrating the strong friendship, to which we express heartfelt appreciation. We have the confidence to avail this disaster and build a better home, as we have done in the past.

That said, today is a great opportunity for me to meet with MEPs from the Delegation for Relations with China. From its day one, this delegation has worked closely with the Chinese National People's Congress to promote mutual understanding and trust between our two peoples, playing a unique and active role in facilitating China-EU relations.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership. Over the last decade, the two sides have taken solid steps in building up three pillars to sustain our political, business, and people-to-people exchange cooperation. We have also created dozens of dialogue and cooperation mechanisms to institute an all-directional, multi-tiered, and extensive cooperation structure.

On political relations, the two sides have enjoyed frequent high level exchange. During last year alone, we have held two China-EU Summits and the China-Central and Eastern European Countries Summit. A large number of EU institutions and member states leaders visited China. These events, which happened far less frequently in the past, demonstrated that more and more people begin to realize that China and Europe are partners, not competitors. Our cooperation is win-win, not a zero-sum game.

On economic cooperation and trade, we have moved ahead steadily in our practical cooperation. The EU has maintained for nine years as China's biggest trading partner. Even amidst the global economic difficulty, our two-way trade registered 546 billion dollars last year, more than four times the size of a decade earlier. Through its rapid investment growth in Europe, China has effectively supported EU's efforts in tackling crisis and promoting growth.

On people-to-people exchange, we have continued to promote deeper cooperation through high-level people-to-people exchange and dialogue mechanisms between China and Europe, at both the institution and member state level. Last year, over 1.5 million Chinese citizens chose Europe as their first destination to visit abroad. More than 200,000 Chinese students are attending schools in Europe. Over 70 daily flights connect Chinese and European cities. All these progress has enabled firm public support for China-EU ties.

Looking back, China-EU relations are now on a new starting point with historic opportunities. Looking forward, I'm full of confidence for the prospect of our partnership.

Now I want to spend some time to update you on some major events happened in China a while back, namely the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China happened in November last year, and the first sessions of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) and the 12th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) happened last month in Beijing. I have been very fortunate to attend these events, and I would like to use this opportunity to share with you my experience and thinking going into these meetings. Among the many significant aspects of these events, we have elected a new group of national leaders and have made strategic plans for China's economic and social development. We have proposed to double the GDP and per-capita income for rural and urban residents by 2020 based on the 2010 level and build a moderately prosperous society in all respects. By 2050, we want to make China a modernized socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, harmonious, and culturally advanced. Realizing these goals matters not only to China, but also to the rest of the world.

I have heard people saying that governing China is probably the world's most difficult job in the next ten years. As a major developing country with 1.3 billion population, China faces numerous serious challenges, ranging from economic growth and structural adjustment, to reform and opening up, and to wealth gap, environment pollution, food safety, and corruption. Talking to people in Beijing, my feeling is that there is great public expectation for and confidence in the new government. The newly elected leaders are young, ambitious, experienced, and result-driven. They have set up goals of growing economy, improving people's livelihood, and promoting social justice. Efforts will continue to be made to promote comprehensive and in-depth reform so as to build an innovative, and corruption free government under the rule of law. The Chinese government has made a clear and firm commitment to the Chinese people: development will remain the number one priority for the government; we will work for more quality and efficient economic growth by changing growth pattern; we will put people first in our pursuit for comprehensive, coordinated, and sustainable growth; and promote all-round progress in economic, political, cultural, social, and environmental undertakings.

China's development will create enormous opportunities for others. It is estimated that in the next five years, China will import 10 trillion dollars of goods, invest 500 billion dollars abroad, and send over 400 million person-times of tourists overseas. Europe is our important partner in this process. We believe that China will produce a strong driving force for Europe in terms of creating jobs, tackling the crisis, and restoring growth.

Through the Party Congress and the National People's Congress, China has conveyed to the international community a strong message: we will remain committed to peaceful development and the opening-up strategy of mutual benefit and win-win progress. China will continue to uphold international peace and seek to properly resolve its differences with relevant countries. While firmly protecting our sovereignty, security, and territorial integrity, we will work hard to maintain regional peace and stability, and continue to play a constructive role in regional and global hotspot issues. We will also associate ourselves with efforts to resolve difficulties through dialogue, so as to benefit from and contribute to world peace.

China is the world's largest developing country and the EU the largest group of developed countries. Whether it is on domestic or international affairs, near-term or long-term issues, China and Europe have always been indispensable partners with constantly growing shared-interest. In the new era, we should come together even more to promote new growth in our ties. I want to make three proposals.

First, we must use mutually beneficial cooperation to provide a driving force for our relations. China and the EU are now working on a 2020 Strategic Plan for China-EU Cooperation. We are also working to launch negotiation for an investment agreement. These work will make us better poised in our growth strategy by releasing the potential for cooperation. The antidumping and countervailing investigation opened by the EU against the Chinese solar panels undermines both the interest of Chinese companies and the confidence of two business communities to work together. In my view, we must be highly cautious in using these measures. Instead, we should focus on improving product competitiveness, making the pie of cooperation bigger by upgrading our business links, and delivering shared growth in the spirit of mutual benefit and win-win.

Second, we must use dialogue and consultation to properly manage our differences. China and Europe have different social system, history, and development level. Our oftentimes different approaches to same problems are therefore quite natural. We must not allow such difference to affect the general trend of our cooperation or to compromise the confidence in China-EU relations. We have a mature system of dialogues and communications covering a wide range sectors that we can use to resolve our differences in the spirit of equality and mutual respect.

Third, we must promote mutual trust as the fundamental basis for our cooperation. With our new leaders moving into office, China will continue to support Europe's efforts to address the debt crisis and to further integration. The Chinese government will remain committed to the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership and continue to support the EU to play an active role in the international community. We hope that the EU side will take the same spirit in respecting China's core interest and concerns. I encourage more MEPs to visit China, and take opportunities to talk to government officials, academic experts, business leaders and others across China. I always believe that such direct cultural exposure and first-hand experience of development challenges are the best way to build understanding and trust between China and Europe. In my role as the Chinese ambassador, I am willing to build with you close work relations and to meet with you often to exchange views on topics of common interest.

Two days from now, High Representative Lady Ashton will travel to China to co-chair the High Level Strategic Dialogue. She will be the first EU leader we receive since the new leadership in China assumed duty. I strongly believe that this visit will be instrumental in facilitating mutual understanding and trust between our new government and EU institutions. In the meantime, in Suzhou, China, there is ongoing China-EU High Level Political Parties Forum. This year, the European Parliament and the Chinese National People's Congress will gather for inter-parliamentary exchange. The two sides are also working together actively in expectation of more high level exchanges including the EP President Schulz visiting China within the year.

MEPs, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Fortunes can't be our eternal friends, but friends can be our eternal fortunes. It is my sincere wish that all of you will be fierce friends with the Chinese people. I hope that as you learn more about China, you can spread that knowledge of a peaceful and growing country to your constituencies, so that more and more people across Europe will invest themselves in the healthy development of China-EU relations.

Thank you!

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