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Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Song Zhe at the Pre-Summit Dinner of the Inaugural Brussels China-Europe Forum

Respected President Nillson,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening!

First of all, I wish to extend, on behalf of the Mission of China, warmest welcome and appreciation to all of you before the concurrent Understanding China Policy Summit and the Inaugural Brussels China-Europe Forum.

2011 has been an eventful year. With the continued profound and complex changes in international politics and with the dramatic increase of destabilizing factors and uncertainties, we have found ourselves in an ever more complicated environment.

Despite such unfavorable externalities, we, China and Europe, have brought encouraging news to the international community by successfully sustaining the sound momentum of our bilateral ties. President Van Rompuy of the European Council has paid a historic visit to China. The Second China-EU High Level Strategic Dialogue and the China-EU High Level Political Party Forum have been concluded with great success. Bilateral economic and trade cooperation has grown exponentially against strong headwinds. We are expecting a record high two-way trade this year of over 500 billion US dollars. The widely celebrated EU-China Year of Youth has helped us cement more firmly the third pillar for our relations as a major highlight in our people-to-people exchange.

These achievements and progress strongly suggest that a closer China-EU strategic partnership meets perfectly the demand of a multipolar world. Our practical cooperation and cultural exchanges are not only productive but also have far-reaching and riveting significance. A new era awaits us to build a more stable, sophisticated and win-win relationship.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Soon, we’ll turn our calendar to 2012. The New Year may not prove to be a magic reset button, but it will as always rekindle hope and confidence. Confidence is the incubator of every undertaking. It is what pulls us together in the face of challenge and what drives us forward in the promise of success. In any case, I hold solid confidence for our relations next year. But why should I?

To begin with, I look at our steadfast political will. China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership is privileged by the two leaderships as a major strategic choice to meet challenge, promote peace, and advance development. As we team up more closely against the current difficulties, we will present the world a fine example of North-South cooperation. We will prove that harmonious coexistence of different development models is possible and indeed happening. And we will lend the world courage and confidence to avail the crisis.

I look at our flourishing practical cooperation. Three decades of investment has earned us a robust and firmly structured cooperation mechanism under the umbrella of the China-EU Summit. As political dialogues grow, practical cooperation has also become deeper, broader, more comprehensive and multi-layered. There are always new areas of cooperation to promote shared interest and prosperity. Our complementary economic structure and the sheer size of our market capacity and trade make our practical cooperation immensely promising.

I look at the profound friendship between our peoples. Having enjoyed the Year of Youth, the much anticipated EU-China Year of Intercultural Dialogue is already on the horizon. In the first half of 2012, China and Europe will launch the First High Level People-to-People Exchange Dialogue. The friendship between the peoples is the soul of state-to-state relations. As mutual affection between our peoples grow through these major events, innovative thoughts and dynamic strength could be tapped to facilitate constructive cross-cultural exchange. As two ancient civilizations, these meaningful exchanges between China and Europe are bound to offer enormous wisdom and inspiration to the constant renewal of our ties.

I look at our rich experiences in managing differences. The difference between China and Europe ranges extensively from history to reality and from ideas to practice. Years of engagement have taught us one important governing principle of diplomacy: seeking common ground while putting aside differences. The diverse range of strategic and policy dialogues that we have put together allow us to render fair judgment of what is greater at stake. They help us foster the habit of always remembering the strategic and larger picture. The two sides have developed strong shared willingness to address disputes timely and constructively, with which one can only expect a steadier and healthier China-EU relations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Academic institutions and think tanks constitute an active force in people-to-people exchange between China and Europe. Their close involvement in policy formulation also makes them an irreplaceable actor in mobilizing public support, narrowing differences, and facilitating mutual understanding and fair perception. At the upper echelon of your community, you have worked relentlessly through your career to promote friendship and mutual understanding between China and Europe. In this busy season of meetings and conferences, we are thankful for your participation in this Policy Summit and Forum on China-EU Relations jointly hosted by the Mission of China and one of our best partners—Friends of Europe. We expect this Forum to become a major regular high-level venue to promote exchange, generate policy recommendations, and deepen mutual understanding.

For tomorrow’s debate, I look forward to candid exchange, clash of ideas, and inspiring remarks. I hope that the panelists will help promote mutual understanding by sharing with each other profound knowledge on China-EU relations and by developing a more balanced and comprehensive view from the opposite perspective. I also hope that the two sides will handle differences carefully. The debate should be free from bias and recrimination, and be constructive and fact-based. We have differences, but let’s approach them with a same goal of resolving instead of escalating them. Policy-wise, I hope that this forum will be able to offer abundant intellectual support for our bilateral ties. I encourage our speakers to examine the situation intensively and propose some forward-looking, targeted, and feasible recommendations for China-EU ties.

I strongly believe that tomorrow's forum will be a highly successful occasion for the exchange of candor and the meeting of minds. This event will surely hold an important place in the academic and people-to-people exchange between China and Europe. To conclude, I wish this event a complete success!

Thank you!

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