The first China-Europe freight train departs from Yinchuan in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region to Budapest, Hungary. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
The global economy is currently faced with major uncertainties. Under these circumstances, China-EU economic cooperation is more important than ever.
Encouragingly, the ninth meeting of the EU-China High-Level Trade and Economic Dialogue on July 19 was a positive step forward.
The Chinese Ministry of Commerce appreciated that the virtual discussions, which mainly focused on the four key areas of macroeconomics, industrial supply chain, trade and investment, and financial cooperation, were practical, clear and efficient.
However, some analysts do not hesitate to claim that EU-China relations are strained and that neither side attaches great importance to cooperation. This misunderstanding is damaging, especially at a time when EU-China cooperation is more important than ever. For example, two days before the talks, CNN published an analytical article entitled “China once saw Europe as the antithesis of US power. Now relations are at a very low level.”
This competitive nature of current international relations has implications for the Articles. The latest round of talks comes after the European Parliament held back a key investment deal with China for more than a year over alleged “human rights concerns” in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, unsubstantiated claims by some Westerners. Media was ready. The much-anticipated agreement gave European companies access to Chinese markets and significantly expanded economic cooperation between the two countries.
After the European Union imposed sanctions on Chinese officials over such allegations, China responded by imposing its own measures on European officials.
In these turbulent times for the global economy, it is encouraging to see that both sides remain committed to economic cooperation, even if the current discussions have not resulted in a proposal for an investment agreement. Given the current world situation, China and the EU should work together to maintain supply chain stability and increase productivity.
In the wake of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and subsequent Western sanctions, the European Union, which has distanced itself from Russian energy supplies, has seen skyrocketing gas prices, rising inflation and declining growth across Europe.
In this time of need, China has been a reliable source of investment for the EU. Last year, China ousted the United States as the EU’s top economic partner in an exchange of $709 billion worth of goods and services.
In addition, in April, the European think tank Network on China said in its eighth research report on Europe’s economic dependence on China that 900,000 jobs in Germany are related to companies in China.
This number corresponds to 2 percent of the German working population. In addition, German companies directly employ more than a million people in China. These figures show how inextricably linked China and Europe are.
The benefits of working together are obvious, and the consequences of conflict would be too devastating to bear. Given the high stakes, the EU and China are being forced to act cooperatively.
In a world undergoing profound change, healthy and stable China-EU relations, particularly in the economic and trade spheres, can help combat uncertainty on the global economic stage and benefit global growth and prosperity.
As the global economy faces numerous crises, protecting the rules-based multilateral trading system at the heart of the WTO has always been the common goal of China and the European Union.
Both the EU and China must recognize the benefits of working together for the benefit of the entire international community.
It is important that they work together to find consensus solutions to problems that threaten global economic stability and prosperity.
Previous strategies have led to too much conflict and too little cooperation. It is time for a new approach that prioritizes economic cooperation.
The author is a founder of Save HK and a member of the Central Committee of the New People’s Party of Hong Kong SAR.