Post-pandemic era calls for greater China-EU contributions

Cheryl Sanders
September 15, 2020

Von der Leyen, who leads the EU's executive body that manages trade on behalf of the member countries, noted that trade and investment talks have been stepped up but despite some recent progress "a lot, a lot, still remains to be done".

"Europe needs to be a player, not a playing field", European Council President Charles Michel told reporters following a video summit with Xi.

"We want more fairness".

In the worldwide arena, China and the European Union are playing a major role in maintaining world peace and stability, and improving global governance, including jointly fending off unilateralism and protectionism, supporting the guiding roles of the United Nations and the World Health Organization, and tackling the world's most pressing issues such as the raging pandemic, terrorism and climate change. However, a series of setbacks, including the coronavirus pandemic, forced officials on both sides to take the summit online.

In a direct rebuke of the U.S., China's state-controlled Xinhua news agency commented "certain countries and political forces keep playing the blame game, clamoring for 'decoupling, ' and pulling out of worldwide organizations and agreements".

President Xi Jinping co-hosts a China-Germany-EU leaders' meeting in Beijing, capital of China, Sept 14, 2020, via video link with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country now holds the EU's rotating presidency, European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

The upcoming leaders' meeting is an important move to promote China-EU relations and cooperation, said Shi Mingde, former Chinese ambassador to Germany and chairman of the China-Germany Friendship Association. "We are different social systems, but while we are committed to multilateralism, it must be rules-based", she added.

"It's no picnic for European Union core leaders to stick to the right policy of cooperating and holding dialogue with China", said Gu, adding that there is more cooperation between China and Europe than competition, more consensus than disagreement.

Brussels wants to reinforce respect for intellectual property, to end obligations to transfer technology and to reduce subsidies for Chinese public enterprises. "We are really serious about having access to the Chinese market and tearing down the barriers".

Still, the bloc is keen to show economic rewards from a policy approach toward China that is less confrontational than that pursued by US President Donald Trump's administration. The deal was hailed as a major victory for the EU as it means that producers in the United States, Australia and New Zealand can no longer use protected European food names when exporting to China.

Cooperation is the mainstream of China-EU relations, and economic and trade interests are the most important common interests in their relations, Feng said.

European attitudes have hardened towards Beijing because of the coronavirus, which many scientists believe originated in China, and because of a new security law on Hong Kong that the West says curtails basic rights.

In an interview with Xinhua ahead of a China-Germany-EU leaders' meeting, Gu Xuewu, director of the Center for Global Studies at Germany's University of Bonn, said that the European political circles attach great importance to the meeting because it is expected to provide guidelines for future EU-China ties.

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