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Address by H.E. Ambassador Song Zhe to the Delegation for Relations with the Korean Peninsula of the European Parliament

Mr. Chairman,

Members of the Parliament,

This is my first visit to the European Parliament in the Chinese Year of Rabbit. So first of all, I wish to convey to you my belated New Year greetings.

China attaches great importance to having good relations with the European Parliament. Over the years, we have established between us substantive exchange mechanisms on a wide range of areas. On that note, I’m very happy to exchange views with the Delegation for Relations with the Korean Peninsula. And I hope that my presentation will give you a better understanding of China’s position on the Korean Peninsula and how we perceive the situation in the region.

Due to its unique geopolitical environment and strategic location, the Korean Peninsula has always been a regional focus kept under the spotlight of the international community, where many parties have a stake in its security. As a result, what we see today is still a divided Peninsula haunted by war, and what happens in the region continues to matter profoundly to the security of Northeast Asia and beyond.

Last year, the Cheonan incident and the shelling of the Yeonpyeong Island once again pushed the region to the edge of tension. As an important and close neighbor to both the DPRK and the ROK, we in China are gravely concerned of these developments and are deeply saddened by the loss of lives and property caused by the conflicts between the two sides. China’s position on the Korean Peninsula has been consistent and clear. We always support rapprochement between the North and the South, realizing peace on the Peninsula, and upholding stability in Northeast Asia. To this end, China has worked unceasingly to promote reconciliation and peace talks between the two countries. In the face of tension, we strongly call on the two sides to exercise restraint, resume dialogues and communications as soon as possible, refrain from intensifying the conflict, and prevent the situation from escalating or spiraling out of control. When the crisis broke out on the Korean Peninsula, China has sent, at the earliest possible time, senior officials to the DPRK and the ROK for good offices. Thanks to the efforts of all relevant parties, we have now witnessed easing signs of tension in the region as evidenced by the contacts between the military representatives of the two sides. Although there hasn’t been substantive progress, we find such efforts beneficial and affirmative in stabilizing regional situation.

The nuclear issue is the key element in the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula as well as Northeast Asia. China does not side with any particular party on this issue, and we make relevant policies and decisions based on the merit of the fact. It has been the consistent policy of China to uphold international nonproliferation regime and realize denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. We oppose nuclear test on the Peninsula, but we also believe political and diplomatic negotiation is the only right path that could lead to the resolution of the issue. Sanction is not the objective.

What has happened shows that the Six Party Talks has played an important role in promoting denuclearization, increasing mutual understanding, and maintaining peace and stability of the Peninsula and Northeast Asia. During the fourth round of the Six Party Talks on September 19th 2005, a Joint Statement was issued which proclaimed the principle of “commitment for commitment, action for action”. I wish to emphasize that this Joint Statement remains the important basis for the resolution of the Korean nuclear issue. When Chinese President Hu Jintao visited the United States this past January, China and the United States issued a joint statement opposing all activities that violate “September 19th Joint Statement” and relevant international obligations and commitments. The two sides also call for necessary steps to resume Six Party Talks at an early date. More than two years have passed since the last round of Talks. We sincerely hope that parties concerned will seize the current opportunity presented by the calming down of the tension in the Peninsula, demonstrate political wisdom and courage, and actively pursue contacts and dialogues to create favorable conditions for the early resumption of the Talks. We believe that as long as we try to meet each other half way, respect and accommodate each other’s concerns, we will be able to achieve a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula through Six Party Talks.

China’s relations with the DPRK are no different from other state to state relations. We have been talking to the DPRK in our own way, but never once have we imposed our position onto them. Currently, the DPRK is actively committed to economic development and improving its people’s livelihood. It’s also reaching out actively to develop or improve relations with relevant parties. The international community should encourage the DPRK to keep the momentum.

Peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula serve the interest of China, Europe and the world. Both China and Europe support a nuclear-free Peninsula and the resolution of problems through dialogue. As a strategic partner, we are willing to strengthen communications with the EU side, and play a positive and constructive role in bringing durable peace to the Korean Peninsula.

Having talked about our positions on the Korean Peninsula, I would also like to use this occasion to say a few words on China-EU relations, which I believe is among the most stable and influential bilateral relations in the world. This can be observed in four aspects.

First, the strength of political ties between China and Europe sets a good example for countries of different social system to grow friendly relations. China is a strong supporter for European integration. Europe applauds China’s peaceful development and does not view China as a strategic threat. Under the framework of our comprehensive strategic partnership, we have established China-EU Summit, High-Level Strategic Dialogue, High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue, and a number of multi-tiered and extensive dialogue mechanisms and platforms to increase mutual understanding, address differences, and promote effective practical cooperation across board.

Second, the high degree of interdependence makes us strong supporters for globalization where all players benefit from the process. As the world largest developing country and the largest block of developed countries, China and the EU enjoy strong economic complementarity. Today, EU is China’s largest trading partner, largest export market, and the largest source of import and technology transfer. China on the other hand, has become the EU’s second largest trading partner and the fastest growing export market. Our cooperation in science and technology, transport, energy, and health care has yielded fruitful results. And last year, our bilateral trade approached 500 billion US Dollars, equivalent to more than 200 times of the level in 1975. In the face of the international financial crisis, China and Europe joined hands to tide over the difficulties. To help Europe out of the crisis, the government of China has sent trade facilitation teams to make investment, sign business deals, and purchase Euro bonds. As we jointly oppose trade and investment protectionism, call for open markets, and commit ourselves to the reform of the international financial system, we are also making an important contribution to world economic recovery.

Third, the rapid growth of our people-to-people exchange makes an important contribution to the common prosperity of oriental and occidental culture. Today, 200,000 Chinese students are studying in Europe, and we have also opened more than a hundred Confucius Institutes in Europe where people can attend classes on the Chinese culture and language. Everyday, 30 flights connect people between major cities in China and Europe. Every year, over a million Chinese tourists visit countries across the European continent. More than 150,000 Europeans are working in China and we are now home to 270,000 European companies. This year, we have already launched EU-China Year of Youth, the first thematic year event between us, and next year, we will be celebrating the Year of Intercultural Dialogue. I’m confident that the fast growth of our people-to-people exchange has a lot to contribute to the harmonious coexistence and common prosperity among different civilizations.

Fourth, the similar views we share in global structure and world order make us positive forces for world peace and stability. Both China and Europe support a multipolar world, call for diplomatic negotiations to resolve international disputes, and oppose the use of or the threat to use force. Both of us are committed to the political resolution of international hotspot issues, and we have together played a constructive role in addressing global challenges, including climate change, counter-terrorism, and proliferation of weapons of massive destruction. With the global significance of our bilateral ties on the rise, it is fair to say that in today’s world, coordination and cooperation between China and Europe is indispensable for the resolution of any major global problems.

Having shared these impressive achievements, I have no intention to deny that China-EU relations are not without a hitch. For instance, on human rights, some people in Europe always like to make an issue out of China as they believe that what’s practiced here will also fly elsewhere. Some put the blame of Europe’s economic and social difficulties on China, as they believe Europe suffered a loss in dealing with China. Some call for haggling or so-called “reciprocal engagement” with China, as they believe that’s the remedy to EU’s problems. In my view, it is natural that we don’t agree on everything given our different history, culture, political system and economic development level. But I believe that to talk to each other in the spirit of equality and mutual respect would always be the smart choice to resolve our disputes. I’m confident that as long as we approach our relations from a long-term and strategic perspective, we will always be able to overwhelm the difficulties and build a healthy and stable pathway for our relations.

Year 2011 marks the beginning of the second decade of 21st century. What’s happening in the Middle East and North Africa has brought huge uncertainty to the world in political, economic and security terms. The earthquake and tsunami that ravaged Japan set off another alarming call that we must come together to meet global challenges. China’s 12th Five Year Plan and Europe’s 2020 Strategy are opening new space for us to deepen political mutual trust and expand strategic and practical cooperation. We are fully willing to cooperate with the EU side to seize the opportunity and uplift our comprehensive strategic partnership to a new height.

Although the Delegation for Relations with the Korean Peninsula is not directly involved in China-EU relations, your perception about China and our bilateral ties have a strong influence both in the EP and among the European public. In this connection, I wish to make three proposals. First, we hope that more and more MEPs will know better about China. The lack of knowledge about my country by people in Europe has very often led to misunderstanding and bias. We welcome more MEPs to visit China. We believe that with your personal experience, the public in Europe will over time have a more fair and objective perception about China. Second, we hope that more MEPs will follow the developments in China-EU relations. Our ties relate to not only ourselves, but to the whole world. In 2011, we will hold the 14th China-EU Summit, the second High Level Strategic Dialogue, and the fourth HED. We would appreciate your interest and support in these events, and expect more people to view China-EU ties under a global context. The third proposal is that we hope more MEPs could care and support China-EU relations, and play a positive role in growing our ties. We look forward to more responsible votes from the MEPs on China related resolutions. And we sincerely applaud your efforts to deepen our mutual trust, facilitate cooperation on international and regional hotspot issues, and promote healthy and steady growth of China-EU ties.

Let me conclude by saying that we in the Mission of China are very hospitable people. We have the best wish to maintain sound work relations and close personal friendship with all of you. And we will always be available if you are interested to gather more information on China and China-EU relations.

Thank you!

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