China and the European Union (EU) announced on Wednesday the official launch of talks on a new pact, as both sides aim to reinforce their strategic partnership.
The announcement of the launch of the Partnership Cooperation Agreement (PCA), was made at a joint press conference held by Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and visiting EU counterpart Benita Ferrero-Waldner.
"The agreement will provide a comprehensive basis covering the whole range of the political, economic and trade relationship between China and the European Union," Waldner said.
She told reporters that the agreement would cover 22 sectors, including energy, environment, trade and human rights.
In September 2006 in Helsinki, the EU and China agreed to launch talks on the PCA to update the 1985 Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement, the document which currently constitutes the legal basis governing EU-China relations.
"I agree with Waldner's comments, that China and the EU are not only trade partners, but all-round strategic partners. We share broad common interests and common positions," said Li.
He said Sino-EU joint efforts will also be conducive to world peace and common development.
Waldner, the EU Commissioner for External Relations and Neighborhood Policy, announced that the new pact would reflect all the changes in the bilateral relationship since 1985.
In September 2006, the EU and China agreed in Helsinki to launch the talks on the PCA.
Earlier in the day, the EU office in Beijing announced the creation of a new Europe-China law school in China along with other projects such as one holding training programs for Chinese managers.
During his talks with Waldner, Li said, "We should continue to increase political dialogue to enhance mutual trust, actively expand and deepen bilateral cooperation in trade, science and technology, agriculture and education, and properly handle any differences that arise between the two sides," said Li.
Li also expressed his appreciation for the EU's adherence to the one-China policy.
"I hope the EU side can make concerted efforts with China to combat Taiwan independence and jointly safeguard the peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits, in the Asian and Pacific region and the whole world," Li said.
Waldner noted that the PCA would provide an overall foundation for the development of bilateral political, economic and trade relations.
She said China and the European Union are important forces in the world enjoying fast growth, wit the time now propitious to develop bilateral relations.
The European Union is willing to work with China to handle various global challenges and solve problems such as energy security, fair trade and climate change, said Waldner.
(Xinhua News Agency January 18, 2007)