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EU and China strategic partners for long run

2015/05/07

By Wang Yi and Federica Mogherini

On 6 May 1975, forty years ago, China and the European Economic Community (EEC) officially established diplomatic relations. It was a decision taken with exceptional foresight on both sides. The world was beginning to move towards a more multipolar order: China and Europe wanted to lead that transformation.

Great changes have taken place since then. China's opening up and reform policy has brought about remarkable achievements over the past 40 years. The EEC has evolved into the European Union. We have supported each other's development and worked together to deal with global challenges such as the financial crises in 2008.

Our mutually beneficial cooperation, notably our trade and economic cooperation, has made an important contribution to not only China's development and European integration, but the world's peace and development as well.

Confucius said that: "At forty, I had no more doubts." As the EU-China relationship enters its fortieth year, we are now working together to find effective solutions to issues of the highest priority for world peace and security.

We have both been personally involved in the negotiations on the Iranian nuclear issue, encouraged all parties to reach a preliminary agreement on the key parameters of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. This aims to ensure the security of the region, and sets an important precedent for promoting non-proliferation in other parts of the world.

We both believe that a positive outcome would have been impossible without the commitment of all parties, and we are now coordinating closely to reach an comprehensive agreement.

Through our joint efforts, bilaterally and with other international partners, we have managed to curb piracy attacks drastically and to secure safety of navigation in Somalia and the Gulf of Aden. The EU ATALANTA mission and Chinese PLA-N also conducted their first two naval exercises off the Horn of Africa last year.

While this cooperation will continue, we need to look at ways to address the root causes of piracy on land. We also intend to expand our focus to promoting peace and security in Africa, by supporting the capacity of the African Union and working together in places such as Mali.

Our common successes embolden us to keep on the same track. Together we can address other longstanding peace and security challenges such as the Middle East Peace Process, where we are both committed to a comprehensive, two-state solution.

Both China and the EU are convinced that the conflict in Ukraine can only be solved by diplomatic means and through full respect for international law, especially respect for Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence. We call on all sides to fully assume their responsibility and to implement their commitments under the Minsk agreements.

When Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the European Union last year, we were committed to developing potential synergies between EU policies and China's "Silk Road Economic Belt" initiative. As two major forces on the Eurasian continent, the EU and China should make joint efforts, together with the countries along the Silk Road, to strengthen communication and coordination on this topic.

We also have a shared responsibility for countering terrorism in all forms. The EU has been grateful for Chinese efforts to evacuate and bring back to safety Chinese, European and other citizens from Yemen.

Our efforts should continue now towards addressing the acute crises in Syria, Libya and Yemen by working towards negotiated political solutions under the aegis of the United Nations. And we should do everything we can to prevent such crises to arise in the future.

We have come such a long way since 1975, when our relationship was based on trade and economic relations only. But in forty years we have also reached an unprecedented level of interdependence.

Our trade now reaches, according to Chinese statistics, as much as $600 billion, and some 16,000 passengers are travelling between China and EU countries on over 70 flights each day. We are committed to strengthening trade and economic ties, facilitating people-to-people exchanges, and to boosting two-way investment and improving market access on a reciprocal basis.

Over the decades, we have also learnt that development has to be sustainable and inclusive, with structural reforms and innovation at its core. We can only achieve these goals if we work together, through constructive interaction and mutual support. This is the essence of our strategic partnership.

China and the EU are accountable for the wellbeing of about a quarter of the globe's population. Our two economies impact immensely on those around us. We should co-ordinate more closely at the multilateral level.

We are now dedicating significant resources to advancing the climate change negotiations and securing an ambitious possible outcome at the Paris Conference of the Parties. The up-coming EU-China Summit will be partly dedicated to designing a joint approach.

The UN post-2015 development agenda offers an important opportunity and means to alleviate and eradicate poverty, and to promote growth and human rights, not least the right to development. EU and China will work together for a fair, inclusive and sustainable post-2015 agenda.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and the founding of the United Nations. China and Europe are amongst those who built and maintained the post-World War II international order based on the UN Charter. We will continue to uphold the purposes and principles of the Charter, and their universality, and work actively for peace, development and human rights in international relations, the rule of law in international governance, and a more equitable international order.

Wang Yi is Chinese Foreign Minister, and Federica Mogherini is High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission.

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