China, EU outline future strategic partnership

In Noticias, Política exterior by PSTBS12378sxedeOPCH

BEIJING, (Xinhua) The 10th China-EU Leaders’ Meeting was held here Wednesday, and leaders from both China and the European Union (EU) outlined their future strategic partnership while discussing pragmatic issues.

The yearly summit was attended by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Prime Minister Jose Socrates of Portugal, which currently holds rotating presidency of the European Union, and European Commission President Jose Manuel Durao Barroso.

The meeting came as the 10th anniversary of the regular meeting mechanism of Chinese and EU leaders.

Over the past decade the China-EU ties have witnessed the fastest development in history and mutually beneficial cooperation has produced rich results and the ties now have reached an unprecedented level in width and depth, Wen said during the meeting.

From the Renminbi exchange rate issue, trade imbalance to climate change and energy cooperation, both sides touched upon all the core issues in the China-EU relations in a pragmatic and open attitude.

During the two-hour summit meeting, both sides agreed to properly handle the disputes through dialogue and negotiation so as to seek balance of trade and push forward the China-EU relations to a new height.

Wen made a four-point proposal to better outline the future ties during the meeting.

One proposal is the two sides should improve the structure of trade, expand trade volume and properly handle the problems in bilateral trade.

Wen proposed to maintain close high-level contacts and have prompt exchanges on bilateral and global issues, making full use of current dialogue mechanism.

He said the two sides should speed up negotiations on a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which was started last January and aimed at replacing the outdated 1985 Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement.

Wen also proposed to make common working plan on China-EU sci-tech cooperation and sign educational exchanges and cooperation agreement as soon as possible, implement the working plan on cultural dialogue and cooperation, and strengthen practical cooperation in the fields of climate change, energy and environmental protection.

Trade and economic cooperation has become one of the powerful engines for the development of the China-EU Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, while trade imbalance emerged as a major issue amid developing bilateral relations.

“We have and will continue to put in place measures aiming at expanding imports and promoting a more balanced bilateral trade.” Wen said in a speech at the 4th China-EU Business Summit before the China-EU Leaders’ Meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

He particularly propose to set up a vice-premier level of dialogue mechanism to help resolve the disputes in the bilateral trade.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said China’s proposal has received approval from the EU and the mechanism is likely to be established after March of 2008.

Besides, Wen also proposed to set up a financial cooperation mechanism which deals with specific issues in financial field, and both sides agreed to carry out relevant study shortly, Liu said.

Wen promised that China will continue to expand market access to foreign countries in accordance with prevailing international economic and trade rules.

The EU is the largest trade partner and export market for China, whereas China is the EU’s second largest trading partner. Bilateral trade volume has

quadrupled over the past decade and is expected to exceed 330 billion U.S. dollars this year.

The two sides also exchanged views on bilateral relations and major international and regional issues.

Socrates said the EU-China strategic partnership benefits Europe, China and the world, and the EU appreciates China’s active role in solving the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula, the Iranian nuclear issue and other major international and regional issues.

Meanwhile, Barroso said the EU hopes to continuously add momentum to the EU-China dialogue mechanism, and solve the issues of common concern through joint efforts.

The two European leaders said the EU adheres to the one-China policy and doesn’t support Taiwan’s proposed referendum on UN membership, which they said is an action to change Taiwan’s status quo.

“I think leaders from both sides had an in-depth discussion on the root cause and solutions to current problems which will give far-reaching guidance to further promote mutual trust and deepen cooperation,” said Feng Zhongping, a researcher with the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.

“To continue pushing forward China-EU relations on the track of stable and sound development serves to the common interests of both sides,” Feng said.

On China-EU relations, Chinese President Hu Jintao gave his account Wednesday afternoon when meeting with Socrates and Barroso.

Hu said the China-EU relationship is at a key stage of inheriting the past and ushering the future, and it is the common responsibility and mission for China and EU to grasp the general direction and lay out strategic plans for further developing bilateral ties and jointly shape a better future for both side