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Cooperation Pacts Signed with the EU

The government signed a series of agreements with the EU on Wednesday in a new bid to develop their relationship and intensify cooperation.

Premier Wen Jiabao and EU leaders witnessed the signing ceremony at the 7th China-EU Summit before taking part in a joint press conference.

The agreements cover such areas as customs, science and technology, and research and development on peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The leaders also endorsed four financing agreements for new projects concerning information technology, managerial personnel exchange and training, social security reform and education.

These projects form part of the wider program of support for economic and social reform in China, with EU funding amounting to 61 million euros (US$79 million).

The Netherlands Prime Minister Balkenende, who holds the 25-nation bloc's rotating presidency, confirmed that work to strengthen the application of the EU Code of Conduct on arms exports was continuing. Once this happens, member states currently opposed to lifting the embargo on arms to China are expected by many to accept it.

"China welcomes this positive signal," said Premier Wen Jiabao, adding that it is beneficial to the sound development of their comprehensive strategic partnership and would not harm the interests of any other third party.

Javier Solana, the EU high representative for common foreign and security policy, told French radio that the embargo might be removed in the first six months of next year, despite opposition from the US and international human rights groups.

Before the summit, President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso said the EU is at a pivotal moment in its relationship with China. "Developing this relationship will be one of our top foreign policy objectives in the years to come."

On China's request to be granted full market economy status, Balkenende told Wen that the EU welcomed its movement towards a market economy.

China and the EU also signed a joint declaration on non-proliferation and arms control, which gives particular focus to the implementation of a UN Security Council resolution on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD); promotion of and compliance with all non-proliferation and disarmament treaties; and strengthening export controls on WMD-related materials, equipment and technologies, as well as of conventional weapons.

"China bears significant responsibility for the maintenance of international and regional peace and stability," Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui said in Beijing before the summit, adding that as a responsible country, China will expand its coordination with the EU in this field.

(China Daily, Xinhua News Agency December 9, 2004)

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