Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s upcoming visit to Germany and Belgium will enhance diplomatic relations with the two countries, and further benefit Europe and the world.
Li’s visit is among the increased high-level exchanges between China and Europe in recent years as the two sides are cementing ever-closer bilateral relations.
China established diplomatic relations with the European Economic Community (EEC), a precursor to the European Union (EU) in 1975, and the two sides have developed robust relations over the 42 years, fostering friendship and mutual trust. The EU is China’s biggest trading partner, while China is the EU’s second biggest, following a dramatic increase in trade in recent years that come along with wealth, jobs, development and innovation for both sides.
However, China-Europe relations, one of the most important bilateral relations in the world, are not always plain sailing, but have also experienced twists and turns as challenges occurred. Since 2009, certain countries in Europe have been suffering from blows of the Eurozone debt crisis, refugee flows, and terrorist attacks, which led to the rise of populism and political conservatism.
Economic protectionism has emerged, which resulted in mounting EU anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations against Chinese products.
These dilemmas complicate China-Europe relations, especially at a time of global economic upheaval.
But the two sides know that the partnership is essential in an unstable world: Trust and cooperation are the only ways out. China’s development provides an enormous opportunity for Europe. Bilateral trade managed to reach a new high in 2016, overcoming global downturn. Trade value reached 3.6 trillion yuan (525 billion U.S. dollars) in 2016, an increase of 3 percent.
In an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world, the two powers have reached a stage that what happens at home also affects global politics and economics. So China will continue to support European integration, and more development opportunities will emerge.
Yet they can and they will do more to further China-EU cooperation, seeking common points while reserving difference. International relations are not a zero-sum game, as China has repeatedly shown in its partnerships with Europe.
With joint efforts, China and Europe will further galvanize their own growth, and more importantly, enhance their coordination in global issues including better safeguard free and fair trade so as to set an example of healthy bilateral relationship to the world. It is worth noticing that protectionism harms everyone.