On the evening of September 14, 2020, President Xi Jinping co-hosted a China-Germany- European Union (EU) leaders’ meeting in Beijing, via video link with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, whose country currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency, President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. Leaders of China, Germany and the EU exchanged in-depth views on China-EU relations to determine the direction and key areas for China-EU relations in the next stage. The leaders agreed to strengthen communication and cooperation to ensure the success of the upcoming series of major political agendas between China and the EU, enhance mutual trust, seek win-win cooperation, uphold multilateralism, and jointly address global challenges, as so to push China-EU relations to a higher level. The leaders of China and the EU announced the signing of the China-EU agreement on geographical indications (GI), stated their commitment to speeding up the negotiations on the China-EU Bilateral Investment Treaty to achieve the goal of concluding the negotiations within this year. China and the EU decided to establish a China-EU High Level Environment and Climate Dialogue and a China-EU High Level Digital Cooperation Dialogue, and to forge China-EU green and digital partnerships.
Xi Jinping pointed out, the COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating changes unseen in a century. Standing at a new crossroad, mankind is faced with multiple common challenges. It is only more imperative for China and the EU, as two major forces, markets and civilizations, to firmly grasp the general trend of mutual support and united cooperation in face of such situations, and unswervingly promote the sound and stable development of the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership, so as to inject more positive energy into the COVID-19 response efforts, economic recovery and championing justice for the international community.
Xi Jinping proposed four principles the two sides should adhere to for developing China-EU relationship.
First, China and the EU should adhere to peaceful coexistence. As there are no identical political systems in the world, the coexistence of multiple civilizations represents the normalcy. The more firm the strength underpinning China-EU peaceful coexistence, the more guaranteed the world peace and prosperity.
Second, China and the EU should adhere to openness and cooperation. China is working toward the goal of fostering a new, dual-cycle development architecture with the domestic cycle as the mainstay and with domestic and international development reinforcing each other. The Chinese side will, by continuously unlocking the potential of domestic demand, seek better interconnectivity and effectiveness between the two markets and resources on the two sides, to promote common development of China and the EU in a more robust and sustainable way.
Third, China and the EU should adhere to multilateralism. The Chinese side is ready to work with the EU side to step up dialogue and coordination at bilateral, regional and global levels, stay committed to a global governance outlook featuring consultation, contribution and shared benefit, defend the international order and system with the United Nations at the core, promote the political settlements of international and regional hot-spot issues, and build a community with a shared future for mankind.
Fourth, China and the EU should adhere to dialogue and consultation. China and the EU need to stay committed to the mainstream of cooperation and development in China-EU relations, resolve misunderstandings through dialogue, overcome difficulties through development and properly manage differences.
Xi Jinping stressed, China and the EU are important trade and investment partners to each other. The two sides should step up macro-policy coordination, take more measures and unleash more cooperation opportunities. The agreement on GI was officially signed today. We should adopt a positive and pragmatic attitude, and speed up negotiations on the China-EU investment agreement to achieve the goal of completing the negotiations by the end of this year. We need to work to upgrade cooperation, facilitate the post-epidemic world economic recovery and jointly safeguard an open trade and investment environment. The Chinese market remains open to the EU. More high-quality and safe EU agricultural products are welcome in China. The two sides should forge China-EU green partnerships, participate constructively in the global multilateral process of tackling climate change and protecting global biodiversity, and support each other in running the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow next year and promoting the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming to achieve positive results, and contribute to global sustainable development. The two sides also need to forge China-EU digital partnerships. China has put forward its Global Initiative on Data Security, and hopes that the EU side will work with the Chinese side to formulate standards and rules of the global digital field and promote the sound development of global governance in digital economy. The two sides should properly address each other’s legitimate concerns. As the Chinese side follows closely the recent developments of the EU side in 5G, foreign investment review, government procurement and competition policy, we hope that the EU side will keep its trade and investment market open, foster an open, fair, just and non-discriminatory business environment and protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies.
Xi Jinping pointed out, since the outbreak of the COVID-19, China and the EU have maintained close contacts in anti-pandemic and global health cooperation, demonstrating the significance and global impact of China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership. For the next step, the two sides should strengthen macroeconomic policy coordination and cooperation, maintain the stability of the global industrial chain and supply chain, and jointly promote the recovery of the world economy. Vaccine research and development cooperation should be strengthened to strive for making vaccines universally available global public goods, and fully accommodate the availability and affordability of the vaccines in developing countries. Personnel exchanges must be resumed in an orderly manner to facilitate the cross-border movement of goods. Tripartite cooperation with Africa should be actively carried out on the basis of full respect for African countries’ will. We call on the international community, especially multilateral financial institutions and commercial creditors, to take stronger actions on debt relief in Africa.
Xi Jinping also expounded on China’s principled position on issues related to Hong Kong and Xinjiang, pointing out that the essence of Hong Kong- and Xinjiang-related issues is about safeguarding China’s national sovereignty, security and unity and protecting the rights of people of all ethnic groups to live a peaceful and happy life. China is firmly opposed to anyone and any force creating instability, division and unrest in China and to interference in China’s internal affairs by any country.
With regard to human rights, Xi Jinping stressed that there is no universal path to human rights development in the world. In terms of human rights protection, there is no single best way, only the better one. All countries should above all handle their own things well. We believe the EU side can find good solutions to its own human rights issues. Chinese people will not accept “an instructor” on human rights and oppose double standards. China is willing to strengthen exchanges with the EU side based on the principle of mutual respect so that the two sides can both make progress.
Angela Merkel, Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen said, China is an important strategic partner respected by the EU. It is imperative for the EU and China to strengthen cooperation, jointly safeguard multilateralism, resist unilateralism and protectionism, and respond more effectively to various global challenges, which is in line with the common interests of both the EU and China and the international community The EU is willing to work with China to strengthen dialogue, promote mutual trust, and push cooperation in the fields including economy and trade, investment, green economy, climate change, biodiversity, and sustainable development for more achievements. The EU side has been encouraged by the signing of the agreement on GI, and welcomes China’s efforts in relaxing market access restrictions and expanding opening up, pledging to conclude the EU-China investment agreement negotiations within this year to inject new impetus into EU-China relations. The EU side is willing to strengthen cooperation with the Chinese side in international organizations such as the World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization, promote anti-pandemic international cooperation, maintain free trade, and promote the economic recovery in both sides, as well as the world at an early date. On the human rights issue, the EU side admitted its problems and expressed the hope to conduct dialogue with China based on the principles of equality and mutual respect to enhance mutual understanding and handle differences properly.
The leaders also exchanged in-depth views on international and regional issues including the Afghan issue and the Iranian nuclear issues, agreeing to strengthen communication and coordination and to make joint efforts in maintaining international and regional security and stability.
Liu He, Yang Jiechi, He Lifeng and others also attended the meeting.