Premier Li's visit to Europe: The nitty-gritty of int'l cooperation

By Tim Collard
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, October 23, 2014
Adjust font size:

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, accompanied by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, greets local residents on a street in Berlin on Oct 10, 2014. [Xinhua Photo]

The gradual restructuring of China's diplomacy by the current leadership took a further step towards taking shape when Premier Li Keqiang made a wide-ranging tour of Europe last week. Visits to the two major economic players Germany and Russia, followed by a visit to Italy for the latest regular session of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), combined economic and strategic objectives, and engagement with both bilateral and multilateral partners.

READ: Li's visit to Germany in figures

The Premier's visit began in Germany, where, as he pointed out, he has now been twice since his accession, an indication that China, quite rightly, sees Germany as the leading economy of Europe. As well as signing contracts worth US$25 billion, he also attended the regular Sino-German Hamburg Summit to discuss the future of the well-established trade/investment links between the two economic heavy-hitters: there are now over 500 Chinese companies based in Hamburg alone, and the long-term nature of the cooperation envisaged was demonstrated by the extension of the successful Volkswagen/FAW joint venture until 2041. There are still concerns on both sides about fair market access, but with such long-term commitments in place these can be addressed. Likewise, the Germans set out a strong case for liberalization of the Chinese financial services market, relating this to the Chinese wish to rebalancing their domestic market towards consumption.

The next stage was Russia, where the problem consists of turning the high level of goodwill between the two countries into practical benefits. Prior to the Premier's visit, China's Ambassador to Germany had called quite openly for China to take advantage of the current dissensions between Russia and Western Europe over Ukraine to build up its own links with the former. Inevitably, centre stage was taken by the one real concrete success of the partnership, the gas-supply arrangements: just before the visit, CNPC had approved the "Power of Siberia" project, the next stage in the large-scale pipeline to be built between Siberia and northern China. The Russian need for this, of course, is exacerbated by the political difficulties further west, which has caused Western Europe to seek to diversify its gas supply and reduce dependence on Russia. This in turn is likely to intensify Russia's dependence on China: China is already Russia's largest trade partner, while China has several larger ones. All the same, the joint workshops held during the visit on innovation across a wide range of sectors could help add new dimensions to the relationship, if flesh can be put on the bones.

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
1   2   Next  

Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from