China and the European Union (EU) reached consensus on Saturday in Shanghai following 10 hours of talks, ending their months-long row in textile trade and bringing their relationship into a new stage.
The Saturday consensus not only helped prevent an escalation of trade row and safeguard the interests of both sides, but also marked the beginning of a new stage of China-EU relations characterized by consultation and dialogue.
The consensus on resolving the textile and clothing row would provide a sound development environment for both Chinese exporters and EU importers.
China and the EU agreed to work for a comprehensive strategic partnership last year. Such a relationship means the two sides would develop bilateral ties in multiple areas from a long-term and strategic point of view.
Such a relationship should be stable and is not to be disrupted by certain unfavorable matters, given that it is based on the principles of equality, mutual benefit, mutual respect and trust.
Today's world is undergoing significant changes with far-reaching impact. China and the EU have no confrontation on matters of fundamental interests, but share more and more common interests as they are highly complementary in economy and also hold similar views on many international issues.
Consultation instead of confrontation, and dialogue instead of unilateral action, as demonstrated in the settlement of the China-EU textile and clothing trade dispute, reflected the essence of a "comprehensive strategic partnership" and provided a good mechanism for the further development of China-EU relations.
Relations with the EU assume much importance in China's foreign policy, and the Chinese leaders have visited Europe frequently since the 1990s. China has supported the integration process of the EU before and after it was expanded to 25 member nations last year, and has supported the EU to play an even greater role in world affairs.
Meanwhile, the EU has regarded China as a major player in the world arena. Leaders of many EU member nations have worked vigorously to push forward EU-China relations during their visit to the country, and many of them have expressed their support to recognizing China as a full market economy and lifting the arms sales ban against China.
As an important part of the China-EU relations, trade between the two sides grew more than 74 times in the past 30 years of full diplomatic relations to reach US$177.3 billion last year.
The EU replaced the United States as China's largest trading partner last year. EU and China are now increasingly dependent on each other in terms of their economic growth.
Leaders of both China and the EU have reiterated for many times that the two sides should expand two-way trade and eliminate obsolete trade barriers. They have also stressed that they would resolve any disputes and concerns through friendly consultation and dialogue and prevent any trade disputes from escalating into a trade war.
The trade of textile and clothing accounts for only a tiny portion of the overall two-way trade. It would be in nobody's interests to let the textile and clothing dispute disrupt the overall China-EU relations.
Similar trade disputes might emerge in the future as trade between the two sides continues to grow. But as long as the two sides can sit down at the negotiation table, they would find out a solution acceptable to both and also beneficial to both.
As China maintains its momentum of rapid economic growth, its annual imports will keep on increasing and possibly reach US$1 trillion by 2020 as against last year's figure of 500 billion dollars.
China's growing appetite for foreign goods, coupled with the upcoming 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, would provide greater opportunities for business people from the EU and other parts of the world who are in good relations with China.
A sound and mature relationship with the EU will greatly help China's development, and vice versa. Bright prospects and great potentials lie ahead in China-EU trade as the two sides are ushering in a new stage for their relationship.
(Xinhua News Agency June 13, 2005)