An article by H.E. Ambassador Wu Hailong on New Europe
（From Chinese Mission to the European Union)
Bring the Chinese and European Peoples Closer through People-to-People Exchange
More than 2,000 years ago, business travelers linked Rome and the Chinese city Chang'An through the ancient Silk Road. Trade between China and Europe has not only provided the two peoples with affluent life, but also helped set the first step of our intercultural dialogue. Since then, people-to-people exchange between China and Europe has continued to deepen and expand, covering extensive areas of education, culture, linguistics, science and technology, public health, academics, tourism and sport with constant growth and renewal. What does the ever-closer people-to-people exchange mean for China and Europe?
Last year, China and Europe celebrated the Year of Youth. Tens of thousands of youth representatives have participated in relevant events. Many of them expressed that such large-scale and face-to-face exchanges were extremely helpful in promoting better understanding of each other's values, beliefs, lifestyle and social environment. The difference between us two did not jeopardize our exchange, but facilitated mutual attraction and appreciation. This fully shows that exchanges and communications between the two peoples could be very effective in promoting better knowledge and positive perceptions of different national conditions, culture, traditions, and ways of thinking. They could strengthen our understanding and acceptance of others' values, development model, and social systems. They could also help build stronger trust and friendship between different countries through learning and sharing.
Since my arrival in Brussels a short while ago, I have already attended several seminars on China-EU relations. In Beijing and many other Chinese cities, there have also been many conferences related to the China-EU ties. It is encouraging to see that in recent years, more and more officials, academics, and entrepreneurs are drawn to such events. The agenda of these events have also expanded from trade and investment to include sustainable development, green economy, environment protection, climate change, new energy and urbanization. The two sides have put forward a number of practical and forward-looking cooperation proposals. These developments suggest that people-to-people exchange is conducive to tapping potentials of cooperation, expanding cooperation, adding more substance to our comprehensive strategic partnership, and promoting the long-term steady growth of China-EU ties.
China-EU relations are now enjoying sound momentum of growth. I could strongly feel that people in the EU institutions attach great importance to and have high expectation for China-EU cooperation. At the same time, I a also aware that our two peoples still lack understanding on each other's practices, particularly in human rights, religion, and minority ethnic policy. This is partly caused by our differences in history, culture, traditions, ideas, development model, and social systems. However, it also shows that our peoples still do not know the other well enough, and that there is still room for improvement in promoting people-to-people exchange.
With the in-depth growth of globalization, stronger ties between our two peoples have become an increasingly important link for China and Europe in order to deepen bilateral cooperation and to establish mutually beneficial and win-win comprehensive strategic partnership. Only with stronger dialogue between our two peoples could we effectively promote mutual perception and understanding, consolidate the popular support of China-EU ties, and continue to expand, deepen, and enrich our cooperation. Only by so doing could we address the root cause of the problems between China and Europe and promote the long-term and smooth growth of our relations.
Both leaderships in China and Europe attach great importance to people-to-people exchange. During the 14th China-EU Summit concluded not long ago, the two sides have jointly announced to launch the China-EU High Level People-to-People Dialogue Mechanism in April. This mechanism will add further strength to the high level exchange mechanism between China and Europe, and will ensure well-planned, effective, and regular people-to-people exchange between China and Europe, making it the third pillar for China-EU relations. The Chinese side is working closely with the EU side to make good preparations for the first dialogue of the mechanism and supporting education, culture, and youth events. This year also marks the China-EU Year of Intercultural Dialogue. The two sides are making plans for a number of events to display our respective cultures, promote people-to-people exchange, and continue to grow mutual understanding. I believe that with our joint efforts, people-to-people exchange between China and Europe will grow even closer and more prosperous, proving a solid basis and unceasing strength for the healthy and durable growth of the China-EU relationship.