The comprehensive strategic partnership between China and the European Union continued to grow steadily in 2009, and all- dimensional, wide-ranging and multi-level cooperation between the two sides further expanded and deepened.
China maintained frequent exchange of high-level visits with the EU and its member states. Premier Wen Jiabao met with EU leaders three times last year, which greatly boosted the political mutual trust between the two sides. Because of the insistence on meeting with Dalai by the president of France, which held the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, the 11th China-EU Summit scheduled for the end of 2008 was postponed, and China-EU relations ran into difficulties. To bring China-EU relations back to the track of steady growth as early as possible, and especially to enhance China-EU cooperation amidst the financial crisis, Premier Wen Jiabao went to Europe on a "Trip of Confidence" in January. He visited the EU headquarters, held talks with Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, and met with Mirek Topolanek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, which then held the rotating EU presidency, and Javier Solana, Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union and High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy. During Premier Wen's visit, the two sides signed nine cooperation agreements in energy, education and other fields, issued a joint statement, and agreed to resume the 11th China-EU Summit at the earliest possible date. On 20 May, Premier Wen Jiabao made a special trip to Prague, the Czech capital, and co-hosted the 11th China-EU Summit with Czech President Vaclav Klaus, European Commission President Barroso and Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union and High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Solana. The two sides signed three cooperation agreements, including the Joint Statement on China-Europe Clean Energy Center, and issued a joint press communiqué which underlined the importance of China-EU relations and demonstrated the shared resolve of Chinese and European leaders to jointly tackle global challenges. On 30 November, Premier Wen Jiabao co-chaired the 12th China-EU Summit in Nanjing with Fredrik Reinfeldt, Prime Minister of Sweden, which then held the rotating EU presidency, and European Commission President Barroso. The two sides had an in-depth exchange of views on China-EU relations, climate change, the international financial crisis and other issues. The 12th Summit, which was held in a Chinese city outside Beijing for the first time, played a positive role in enhancing local cooperation between China and Europe. The two sides signed six cooperation documents in science, technology, environmental protection and other fields. Chinese and European leaders also attended and addressed the closing ceremony of the Chine-EU Business Summit. President Hu Jintao met with the European leaders attending the Summit in Beijing. Before the Summit, Premier Wen Jiabao met with Euro Group President and Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet and European Union Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia in Nanjing.
China and the EU carried out intensive dialogues and consultations at different levels and in different forms, and maintained close communication on major international issues. In March, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, EU Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy, visited China. Vice Premier Li Keqiang and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi met and held talks with her respectively. Foreign Minister Yang also met with EU "Troika" foreign ministers on the margins of the Ninth Asia-Europe Meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam in May and the 12th China-EU Summit in November. In June, Foreign Minister Yang attended the working lunch for EU diplomatic envoys hosted by the ambassador of the Czech Republic, which held the rotating EU presidency. In July, Foreign Minister Yang exchanged greetings with Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union and High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Solana on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum Foreign Ministers' Meeting.
In January, Vice Foreign Minister Li Hui attended the Fourth China-EU Strategic Dialogue in Beijing with the EU "Troika" delegation headed by Tomas Pojar, First Deputy Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic, which held the rotating EU presidency. State Councilor Dai Bingguo met with the delegation. In December, Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun visited the EU headquarters and had a dialogue with the Political and Security Committee (PSC) of the Council of the European Union. He co-chaired the Fifth China-EU Strategic Dialogue with Frank Belfrag, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, the EU presidency country. The two sides deepened dialogue under such frameworks as political consultation between experts at director-general level, foreign policy consultation, arms control and non-proliferation consultation, climate change consultation and consultation on African issues. In May and November, China and the EU held the 27th and 28th human rights dialogues and the 18th and 19th judicial seminars in Prague and Beijing respectively.
Negotiations for the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) continued to make progress. In 2009, the two sides held two rounds of vice-minister-level PCA steering meeting and four rounds of director-general-level working-group consultation, and reached consensus in principle on articles related to non-proliferation and counter-terrorism, raising the total number of agreed articles to 24.
Practical cooperation in various fields further deepened. China-EU economic and trade relations on the whole proceeded smoothly. The EU is China's largest trading partner, biggest import and export market and primary source of technology transfer, while China is EU's second largest trading partner. In 2009, the two-way trade amounted to US$364.1 billion, down by 14.5% year-on-year. By the end of March 2010, China had signed contracts worth US$128.907 billion of technologies and US$69.14 billion of direct investment from the EU. In May, Vice Premier Wang Qishan co-chaired the Second China-EU High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue with EU Trade Commissioner Baroness Catherine Ashton, representative of the European Commission President, in Brussels. In September, EU Trade Commissioner Ashton visited China and attended the 13th China International Fair for Investment and Trade in Xiamen. She met with Vice Premier Wang Qishan and held talks with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Commerce Minister Chen Deming. China-EU dialogues on regional policy, employment and social affairs and competition policy continued to move forward steadily. Several senior European Commission officials, including Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Multilingualism Leonard Orban and Commissioner for Public Health, Feed and Food Safety Androulla Vassiliou, visited China. Apart from the cooperation agreements reached during high-level visits and China-EU summits, China and the EU also signed the Protocol Amending the Agreement on Maritime Transport Between the Government of the People's Republic of China, of the One Part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the Other Part, the Joint Declaration of Mr. Zhou Ji, Minister of Education of the People's Republic of China, and Mr. Leonard Orban, Commissioner for Multilingualism of the European Commission, the Terms of Reference for Establishing a Dialogue on Health Between the Ministry of Health of the People's Republic of China and the Directorate General for Health and Consumers of the European Commission and other cooperation documents.
Exchanges between parliaments and political parties proceeded steadily. In February, Vice Minister Zhang Zhijun of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee visited the European Parliament, and met with European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pottering and leaders of relevant political parties. In April, NPC Vice Chairperson Uyunqimg visited the European Parliament. She met with President Pottering and attended the 28th session of the regular inter-parliamentary exchange mechanism between China and the EU. In September, NPC Vice Chairman Hua Jianmin met with the newly-elected European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek on the margins of the Globe Rome G8+5 Legislators Forum.
Interactions between various social sectors developed in full swing. In May, the Fifth Meeting of the China-EU Roundtable co- sponsored by the China Economic and Social Council (CESC) and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) was held in Tianjin. In September, EESC President Mario Sepi led a delegation to China and visited the Tibet Autonomous Region. Wang Gang, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, CPPCC Vice Chairman and President of CESC, met with him. In October, Zhao Qizheng, Chairman of the CPPCC Foreign Affairs Committee and Vice President of CESC, attended the Sixth Meeting of the China-EU Roundtable in Stockholm. In November, the first Forum on China-EU Strategic Partnership was held in Beijing. Premier Wen Jiabao and State Councilor Dai Bingguo had separate meetings with European delegates. Vice Premier Li Keqiang, former State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan and Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun attended and addressed the opening ceremony of the forum.