BEIJING, Dec. 7, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The first in-person meeting of its kind between the world’s two major forces and markets after the COVID-19 pandemic – the 24th China-European Union (EU) Summit – was held in the Chinese capital of Beijing on Thursday.
During his talks with President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, Chinese President Xi Jinping, who underscored the significance of China-EU relations to global stability and peace amid a turbulent international situation, called for both sides to step up cooperation and handle their differences through dialogue.
Upholding apt description of China-EU ties
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership and has witnessed frequent high-level exchanges between China and the EU.
In June, Chinese Premier Li Qiang made his first overseas trip after taking office to Germany and France. In October, the 12th round of the China-EU High-level Strategic Dialogue was held in Beijing, the latest interaction between the two sides.
“China and the EU should uphold the apt description of their relationship as a comprehensive strategic partnership,” Xi said at Thursday’s meeting. He urged both sides to fully leverage the guiding role of the China-EU Summit and the five high-level dialogues, strengthen strategic communication, increase understanding and properly handle differences through constructive dialogue.
“We should not view each other as rivals just because our systems are different, reduce cooperation because competition exists, or engage in confrontation because there are disagreements,” the Chinese president stressed.
Echoing Xi, Michel and von der Leyen noted that the EU does not want to decouple from China. It seeks a long-term, stable, predictable and sustainable relationship with China and hopes that the China-EU Summit will help reenergize relations between the two sides.
Established in 1998 as an annual meeting mechanism, the China-EU Summit is devoted to enhancing dialogue and cooperation between the two sides in areas including politics, economy, culture and society. The previous summit took place in April last year via video conference.
At this year’s summit, the two sides also vowed to strengthen communication and coordination in multilateral fora, including the United Nations and the G20, uphold multilateralism and promote the political settlement of international and regional hotspots.
Chinese modernization an opportunity for EU
“As China pursues high-quality development and high-standard opening up, it sees the EU as a key partner for economic and trade cooperation, a preferred partner for scientific and technological cooperation, and a trustworthy partner for industrial and supply chain cooperation,” Xi told the two EU leaders.
China and the EU have remained each other’s second-largest trading partners. Official data shows that two-way trade amounted to $847.3 billion in 2022, or an average of over $1.6 million every minute.
This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). During the meeting, Xi expressed China’s willingness to strengthen Belt and Road cooperation, including by creating synergy between the BRI and the EU’s Global Gateway.
The China-Europe Railway Express, one of the BRI flagship enterprises, provided services for 217 cities in 25 European countries with some 81,000 China–Europe freight train trips till the end of November, according to China’s National Development and Reform Commission.
The EU side sees the long-term, steady growth of the Chinese economy as in the interest of Europe, said Michel and von der Leyen, who hoped the two sides would strengthen dialogue and cooperation in the economic and trade, green and digital fields, and keep supply and industrial chains stable and secure.
“Chinese modernization and European integration are strategic choices that China and Europe have made, respectively, with the future in mind,” said Xi.
The two sides should respect and support each other and leverage the complementarity of their development strategies for common progress, he added.