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Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Song Zhe at the Seminar on China-EU Relations

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

First of all, I would like to welcome you to today’s seminar on China-EU relations. Many of you from the EU think tanks are China experts and scholars who have long been following and supporting the growth of the China-EU ties. I’m very happy that we will have some in-depth discussions and exchange of views on this matter today.

Last year, also in June, we organized here in the mission a similar event debating on the China-EU relations under the influence of the financial crisis, and many of you joined the discussions with our diplomats. One year later, we have seen major changes in the international situation with the steady recovery of the world economy. Most importantly, over the last twelve months, particularly since the beginning of this year, our bilateral relations has developed with strong dynamics and vitality, demonstrating positive, healthy and steady momentum of growth.

First, frequent high level exchanges constantly reinforced the political basis of our relations. This year marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and the EU. In this year of historical significance, the Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping and Vice Premier Li Keqiang have both visited Europe, and President Barroso has also paid a successful visit to China and attended the opening ceremony of the Shanghai World Expo in early May with a number of newly elected EU Commissioners. Around the anniversary, both sides organized celebration events in Brussels and Beijing respectively that witnessed impressive participation. Not long ago, President Buzek of the European Parliament also headed a delegation of MEPs to visit China. During these high level exchanges, leaders from both sides conducted constructive, open, and in-depth discussions, reached many important agreements, and sent to the world a strong political signal on promoting the growth of the China-EU relations.

Second, steady business cooperation further deepened our shared interests. Despite of the international financial crisis, we have maintained stability and balanced growth in our bilateral trade. The role of the EU in China’s foreign trade has been consolidated and strengthened. In the first quarter this year, our bilateral trade volume grew by a 35.1% year-on-year increase, reaching 101.47 billion USD. Chinese imports from Europe recorded 36.09 billion USD, registering a 43% year-on-year growth rate, far higher than the 31% increase of Chinese exports to Europe. In order to have better communication with foreign businesses in China, during President Barroso’s visit, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao proposed on his own initiative to meet with representatives of European companies in China. In the second half of May, the 24th China-EU Economic and Trade Joint Committee was held in Brussels. During the meeting, the two sides had in-depth and candid exchange of views on the China-EU economic and trade relations and the world economy, and broad consensus has been reached on the implementation plan of the bilateral development cooperation agreement.

Third, active people-to-people exchanges grew side-by-side with our all-round cooperation. During President Barroso’s visit, leaders from both sides agreed to deepen cooperation in education, culture, and social undertakings, and to jointly implement the plan of making the year 2011 the Year of China-EU Youth Exchange to promote mutual understanding and friendship between the two young peoples and to foster their active support and participation in the development of China-EU relations. We are very happy to see that this initiative has already been discussed at the first China-EU Youth Leaders Summit held two weeks ago. Climate change is a new highlight in our cooperation. We have seen smooth running of climate change ministerial dialogue and cooperation mechanism and the setting up of the China-EU Clean Energy Center in Beijing. Both sides pledged to further strengthen cooperation in energy conservation, environment protection, and the development of low carbon economy.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over the last 35 years, our bilateral relations continued to grow on the basis of equality, mutual benefit, and mutual respect. We have come through an eventful journey and harvested exceptional achievements. Having said that, I would also point out that our relations has never been a smooth sailing, yet a tortuous one with difficulties and challenges. Looking back, the common aspiration for peace and development brings us together. Looking ahead, the common responsibility to address global challenges continues to hold us tight. We have a complex bilateral relations that bears strategic and global significance. The progress of this relation demands a scientific, reasonable and practical approach to attain the following four pairs of balance.

First, the balance between the long term and the short term. The core of China-EU relations lies in its strategic dimension, and China always proposes that we approach this important relationship from a strategic height. This shouldn’t be interpreted as China thinks less of the ongoing issues nor as we purposely ignore the practical issues or specific problems that we have in the existing China-EU relations. Nevertheless, if we are preoccupied with these short term problems and fixing our eyes merely on immediate difficulties, we’ll be more likely to get handcuffed in addressing these issues and even lose track of where we are heading. I have always believed that the correct way to resolve problems is to have in mind the long-term picture, safeguard the larger interests, and keep everything on the track of positive progress.

Second, the balance between the whole and the part. Our relationship is a complex entity consisting of multi-dimensional, multi-layered, and multi-variable elements. I often compare the problems we have between us to the malfunction of specific parts in a very exquisitely manufactured timepiece. The whole idea of sound China-EU relations should be the overriding factor charting the course and coordinating the motion trajectory of different dimensions, so that every facet of our relations will move ahead in sync with each other. We need reasonable and comprehensive approach to address misunderstanding and frictions. We should avoid and oppose attempts to detriment our larger interests in pursuit of sectional benefits, because only by so doing could we ensure the sustained, healthy, and steady growth of our relations.

Third, the balance between multilateral and bilateral approach. The significance of relations between China and Europe has global reach, far exceeding the scope of just another set of ordinary bilateral ties. When we are faced with new developments in the world and all those global issues, we need to be aware that the mishandling of these problems will influence, if not seriously implicate, the international landscape. Therefore, we must commit ourselves to viewing our shared interests and that of the international community from a strategic height, and work together for world peace and common development.

Fourth, the balance between reason and sentiment. I believe that all of you will agree that diplomacy is both an art and a science. There are certain rules and logic governing diplomacy. As people involved in the daily conduct of diplomacy and as scholars and experts of international relations, our different cultural and academic backgrounds make it only natural that we may approach the same matter in different manner in the absence of being complete neutral and objective. However, it would be greatly helpful if we constantly remind ourselves to properly balance our reason and sentiment. I hope that our friends in Europe will view the development of China with an open and peaceful mind and will weigh in your reason when the sentiment end of the seesaw is taking a steep bounce. In order to achieve a healthy and steady China-EU relations, I hope that all of you here will develop a balanced understanding of China’s principled positions and policy proposals on certain issues, and try to avoid misleading the EU’s China policy and the public opinion about China in Europe through extreme or one-sided remarks.

In the upcoming October, the 8th Asia-Europe Meeting and the 13th China-EU Summit will be held in Brussels. During those events, leaders from both sides will have in-depth exchange of views on how to further advanced China-EU ties and jointly meet global challenges. Also in the second half of this year, there will be China-EU High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue and China-EU Strategic Dialogue. All in all, with all these progress in our cooperation across board, let’s join hands to make the year 2010 an unforgettable and eventful year in the history of China-EU relations!

Thank you!

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