By Zhou Shixin
On May 20, 2009, the 11th EU-China Summit opened in Prague. The President of the Czech Republic Václav Klaus, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Secretary General of the Council of the European Union Javier Solana are representing the European Union. Premier Wen Jiabao headed the Chinese delegation. The two sides have pledged an "open and constructive" dialogue and say they are committed to a comprehensive strategic partnership.
This summit was originally scheduled for last December but was postponed because of a meeting between the Dalai Lama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy while France was holding the rotating EU presidency.
But now it is urgent for China and the EU to reach a common understanding about international issues such as the global financial crisis, A/H1N1influenza, climate change, environmental protection, anti-protectionism, technological cooperation and cultural dialogue. The U.N. conference on climate change to be held this December in Copenhagen is crucial to setting goals for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.
This summit demonstrates that both sides attach great importance to their comprehensive strategic partnership and are determined to join hands to deal with bilateral and international issues. Building a sustainable relationship is in line with the basic interests of both sides.
What topics will be on the agenda?
In the changed international context, leaders from both sides will be seeking to strengthen dialogue and exchange views on global and bilateral strategic perspectives.
Both sides will promote closer economic, trade and financial cooperation. Cooperation between China and Europe, including participation in each other's stimulus plans, will help both sides fight trade and investment protectionism, boost confidence, and promote early recovery of the global economy.
Both sides will seek to consolidate their comprehensive strategic partnership. The summit will strengthen confidence and mutual trust. The core discussions will be about reaffirming the partnership of the European Union and China in addressing the major challenges facing the globe today. Serge Abou, head of the Delegation of the European Commission to China, said, "The financial crisis requires concerted action to maintain the momentum and continue the high-level political coordination established at the London G20 Summit."
Both sides will aim to sign a series of agreements. Four or five agreements are expected to be discussed, including setting up a Beijing-based center for supporting small and medium European companies in China, and the creation of an EU-China center for clean energy. China needs the EU's market, technology and management experience. The European Union does not apply many restrictions on the export of high technology to China, apart from weapons and goods intended for military use. China and the EU will be aiming to enhance cooperation in developing new energy and energy saving technologies, promoting a low-carbon economy, and environment-friendly industries.
Both sides will want to discuss major international and regional issues. Leaders will exchange views on international security issues, such as the Iranian nuclear issue, the Korean Peninsula, environmental protection, climate change and cultural misunderstandings. Both sides are concerned about international security and stability, and will want to discuss projects that can boost all-round global development.
Implications of the Summit
The summit can maintain and consolidate the achievements of the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership. The summit should enhance mutual trust and reciprocal cooperation, and push forward Sino-EU relations. Setbacks in the bilateral relationship are against the interests of both sides, and leaders will be looking to restore sustainable cooperation and communication.
A sustainable healthy relationship between China and the EU helps interregional cooperation between Europe and Asia. ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting) is the most important platform for exchanges between the two continents. China expects the EU to boost the role of East Asia in ASEM.
The prosperity and strength of China and the EU will reshape the new world order. Stimulus packages in China and the European Union will produce positive results in the near future, and will make a major contribution to the recovery of the world economy. As two stabilizing factors in the international community, China and the EU can continue to play an active role for the promotion of international peace and security, and the building of a multipolar world.
The current China-EU summit is far more than a fence-mending meeting focused on trade and the economic crisis. It can be a milestone and a historical step forward, signifying a common desire to consolidate and develop the bilateral relationship.
Naturally there are obstacles to the China-EU relationship, such as the EU's reluctance to help China reduce pollution and protect the environment by selling it advanced technologies; it is unlikely that this time round the EU will relax its limits on high-tech exports to China or review its anti-dumping policies.
Zhou Shixin is a research fellow of the Institute of Foreign Policy Studies, Shanghai Institute for International Studies. His current research fields are Southeast Asia studies and China's foreign policy.
(China.org.cn May 21, 2009)