Top diplomats from China and the European Union
pledged closer cooperation yesterday, highlighting their common
interests in peace and security and pushing a message of free trade and
open engagement in contrast to fears that the US is turning inward under
President Donald Trump.
The statements came as China and the EU held their first high-level talks since Trump took office in January.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini co-chaired the Seventh EU-China Strategic Dialogue in Beijing with China’s State Councilor Yang Jiechi.
“At present, the international situation is complex with many new developments, challenges and problems,” Yang told Mogherini. “Against this backdrop, for China and the EU to deepen cooperation and coordinate positions not only concerns the common interests of the two sides, but is also of great significance for the development of international political and economic relations.”
Mogherini said China and the European Union had “a big responsibility” during “times of uncertainty.”
“We are looking forward to intensifying our cooperation on a positive agenda, what the EU and China can do together for the benefit not only of our citizens, but also of the world,” Mogherini said.
Cooperation on regional and security issues and climate change were among the items on the agenda for the talks, which came ahead of an EU-China summit scheduled for Brussels in June.
On Tuesday, Mogherini met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who said the international community was looking at how China and the EU would work together to tackle challenges that include the world economic recovery, global conflicts and terrorism, and Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.
Li was optimistic about the outcome of the talks based on “a stable China-EU relationship, with the consistency of our two sides toward multilateralism and free trade, and with our joint commitment to improving the international governance structure.”
Unlike Trump, who was elected promising to tear up trade deals, impose new tariffs and bring jobs back to America, President Xi Jinping has cast China as a champion of free trade and stability, and has spoken out against protectionism.
Mogherini said Xi’s speeches “raised high expectations that China and the European Union can work together on multilateralism, on rules-based global order” and trade.
“Not only our people, but probably the multilateral system, need Europe and China to work together on some of the major global issues we are facing, from climate change to migration or counterterrorism, and also the many crises we have around us such as the tensions on the Korean Peninsula,” Mogherini told Li at the start of their meeting.
China, meanwhile, wants the EU to grant it market economy status, which would make it harder for the EU to impose tariffs on Chinese imports it deems unfairly cheap.
Mogherini is to give a speech at Beijing’s Tsinghua University today, before traveling to India and Russia.