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Excellent Relations with EU Can Still Grow

A prosperous future for China and Europe hinges on wisdom that can steer the course of their bilateral relations.


The eighth China-EU Summit, due to take place today in Beijing, is a good time for such wisdom to come to the fore.


Leaders from both sides are expected to discuss a wide range of issues covering security, trade, and extended cooperation on the global warming and clean energy.


Agreements to be sealed at the summit include a new dialogue on employment and social benefits, space exploration, geographical indication and maritime transport.


The most prominent will be the launch of negotiations on a new framework agreement shaping diplomatic relations for the next 20 years.


This demonstrates that both sides are aware of the importance of strengthening their comprehensive partnership, which will contribute not only to the mutual prosperity and the growth of the regional and world economies, but also to world peace and stability by promoting multilateralism.


This year marks the 30th anniversary of Sino-EU diplomatic ties.


As vital forces in the international arena, China and the EU face the same global challenges.


China and the EU have embraced a constructive mind-set, which makes the environment for better cooperation, especially from the long-term strategic perspective, more dynamic.


The annual summit serves as a platform for them to work together on their shared interests and explore ways to deal with differences and conflicts.


Sino-EU ties have advanced tremendously since the 1990s as both sides have adopted a pragmatic attitude towards each other.


Following its first long-term strategy concerning China-EU relations in 1995, the EU published a series of policy documents including "A Maturing Partnership: Shared Interests and Challenges in EU-China Relations" in 2003, which have laid the foundation for long-term cooperation.


China's publishing of its first comprehensive policy paper on its relations with the EU in 2003 is perceived as a significant contribution to further deepening the ties.


Economic interests have served as a major catalyst for a fruitful rapport between China, the world's largest emerging market in need of modern entrepreneurial expertise, and the EU, a sophisticated old hand in terms of corporate development, marketing and resource management.


Technological strength and research capabilities, which are, to some extent, more highly valued than cash, are also injected into many co-founded projects.


Instead of cheap labor and low production costs, which used to be the main attractions for overseas investors, China is now upgrading its work force and creating a more mature market.


With a bilateral trade volume of US$177.3 billion, the EU replaced the US as China's largest trading partner last year.


Such dynamics have fuelled the great expectation in the potential of bilateral trade with the further expansion of the Chinese market as a result of China's entry into the World Trade Organization.


The second China-EU Business Summit, due to be held today on the sidelines of the eighth China-EU summit, testifies to both sides' commitment to maximize benefits by bolstering market access and investment opportunities.


There is also great interest in travel after the EU countries were approved as tourist destinations for Chinese.


There is still more potential room for cooperation in the areas such as finance, environment, agriculture, education and rural development.


It is in line with their mutual interests to continue the positive policy towards each other and deal with differences with a pragmatic attitude.


Undoubtedly, in a world of accelerated globalization, the desire between them to seek common ground and cooperation can only get stronger.


(China Daily September 5, 2005)

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