On December 21, 2020, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a collective meeting with envoys to China from the European Union (EU) and 27 of its member states in Beijing.
This annual diplomatic working lunch offered the two sides the opportunity to reiterate their commitment for building a comprehensive bilateral relationship based on mutual trust and reciprocity.
The State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi hailed China’s relationship with the European Union and underlined that the two sides have cooperated well during the coronavirus outbreak. He added that they had maintained a close working relationship on issues such as economic recovery, climate change, and global governance. As this year marks 45 years of diplomatic relations between the two sides, the Chinese top diplomat called for stronger communication and mutual trust so as to create a more stable world.
Wang Yi said this has been an extraordinary year, as the COVID-19 pandemic brought a huge impact to the world. Wang Yi thanked the diplomatic envoys for staying in Beijing, working with the Chinese people to overcome the difficulties and fight against the epidemic, and maintaining normal exchanges between their countries and China. “The COVID-19 will be defeated and mankind will surely win”.
China’s Foreign Minister stated that this year marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the EU, a great year for China-EU relations. The China-EU relations have made significant progress while overcoming the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. China and the EU have supported each other and actively carried out cooperation against the COVID-19 pandemic. The two sides successfully held the China-EU Summit and the China-Germany-EU leaders’ meeting, which provided strategic guidance for the sound development of China-EU relations. Practical cooperation has become a highlight of the development of China-EU relations. China has become the largest trading partner of the bloc for the first time. The two sides have formally signed the China-EU Agreement on Geographical Indications and are expected to reach the China-EU investment agreement.
“China and Europe are hopefully reaching consensus on the comprehensive investment agreement,” Wang told the ambassadors, according to a Chinese foreign ministry statement.
“It has once again been proved that China-EU cooperation is far greater than competition, and [areas of] consensus are far greater than differences. China and Europe are partners in mutually beneficial cooperation, and the relationship between the two sides is full of vitality,” he said.
The two sides also decided to establish two high-level dialogue mechanisms on environment and climate as well as digital cooperation. China and the EU have maintained strategic coordination in international and multilateral affairs. Both sides advocate and practice multilateralism, and promote political settlement of international and regional hotspot issues. The two sides also work together to strengthen macroeconomic policy coordination, promote world economic recovery, push the reform of the World Trade Organization, enhance international cooperation on climate change, improve global governance, and conduct beneficial exchanges in the fields including education, science and technology and culture. The two sides have successfully held the fifth meeting of the China-EU high-level people-to-people dialogue.
Wang Yi underlined that the current international situation is complex and volatile. China and the EU, as two important forces in the process of multi-polarization, should jointly provide more stability to the world. The more complex the situation becomes, the more important it is to remain objective and rational, step up communication and dialogue, enhance mutual trust, remove all kinds of interference and work for a stable and lasting China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership. The two sides should foster and build correct mutual understanding, increase trust, dispel misgivings, seek common ground while shelving differences, seek common ground while resolving differences, and work together to meet global challenges, so as to let the world enjoy lasting peace and development.
According to Chinese Foreign Ministry, Wang Yi also said that for China and the EU, cooperation far outweighs competition, and the areas of consensus far exceed differences. China and the EU are partners of mutually beneficial cooperation and their bilateral relations enjoy strong vitality. President Xi Jinping pointed out that China and the EU should adhere to peaceful coexistence, openness and cooperation, multilateralism and dialogue and consultation. This is an important experience for the development of China-EU relations since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two sides and also an important principle for further developing China-EU relations. No matter how the international situation changes, China and the EU should make dialogue and cooperation the dominant theme, pursue mutual benefit and win-win outcomes, and properly manage and handle differences.
Chinese Foreign Minister also said next year is the first year of China’s 14th Five-Year Plan, and also the year for the EU to launch a massive recovery program. China-EU relations are facing important opportunities. The two sides should seize the opportunities and build on it to carry out all-round cooperation.
A statement by the European Union delegation in China said the meeting was an opportunity to discuss a wide range of issues, covering the entirety of the EU-China relationship. Ambassador Nicolas Chapuis recalled the goal of finalising negotiations for the agreement for an EU-China Comprehensive Investment Agreement (CAI) by the end of 2020 and noted the progress in the ongoing talks and that both sides are in continuous contact to address outstanding issues.
The statement also notes that the EU side had comprehensive exchanges with the State Councillor / Foreign Minister on: the current overall state of play of EU-China relations; Human Rights; Climate Change and Bio-diversity; multi-lateralism and on China’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic and the implications of related restrictions on European businesses and citizens.
“The working lunch was an important opportunity to take stock of EU-China relations. The European Union remains committed to building a comprehensive relationship with China, taking into account the EU’s interests and values, and based on mutual commitment and reciprocity,” reads the statement of the EU delegation in China.