(File Photo: VCG)
China and the EU have a broad consensus that multilateralism is the key to the development of the two sides, even of the world. Unilateralism and protectionism are unacceptable. China and the EU are willing to promote bilateral ties between the two regions, which will enhance multilateralism, and to cooperate to safeguard the multilateral trading system and resist trade protectionism.
The current international situation is undergoing complex and profound changes, unstable and uncertain factors are increasing, regional crises are coming one after another, and non-traditional security threats remain a critical risk. As this occurs, China and the EU are signaling their support for anti-protectionism at the ongoing Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Brussels, Belgium.
Founded in 1996, ASEM is an important intergovernmental forum and a unique platform for dialogue and cooperation between Asia and Europe, aiming to increase understanding, strengthen mutual trust and promote a new and comprehensive partnership between Asia and Europe through political dialogue, economic cooperation and social and cultural exchanges. The theme of the meeting this year is “Europe and Asia: Global Partners for Global Challenges.”
Recently, global unilateralism is mounting and trade protectionism is prevailing. The United States has continually provoked trade frictions with China. The Trump administration has frequently attacked China on issues such as trade, national security and national defense. In this context, the ASEM summit will inevitably attract widespread attention.
The EU attaches importance to China-EU relations. Weeks before the ASEM summit, the European Commission issued a policy document titled The EU strategy on connecting Europe and Asia, which contained the most comprehensive and systematic policies and proposals put forward by the EU on the Eurasian connectivity so far.
In a press release by the Commission, Federica Mogherini, the high representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said that the EU’s way to connect Europe and Asia is to “establish stronger networks and strengthen partnerships for sustainable connectivity, across all sectors and based on a respect for common rules.”
China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the EU’s strategy have a point of convergence, which has far-reaching significance for deepening the Belt and Road initiative. China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations Vice President Feng Zhongping believes that, based on the timing of the announcement for the EU’s policy before the ASEM, promoting and improving the Eurasian connectivity will be a major highlight of the summit.
China also welcomes cooperation with the EU. When meeting with Federica Mogherini during the United Nations General Assembly in New York last month, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi stressed that China welcomes the active participation of the EU in building the Belt and Road and is willing to actively consider coordinating the Belt and Road with the EU’s connectivity strategy in a timely manner.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a briefing for the ASEM Summit on the afternoon of October 9. Zhang Jun, the assistant minister of Foreign Affairs of China, stressed that China and Europe and Asia and Europe have a broad consensus on the issues for dealing with unilateralism and protectionism. The consensus is to issue the voice of maintaining multilateralism, especially to maintain the international order and multilateral trading system based on the World Trade Organization and international law and international rules. This is the focus of current cooperation between Asia and Europe and China and Europe.
“We believe that Asia and Europe have broad common interests and broad consensus and a foundation in maintaining multilateralism, and opposing unilateralism and protectionism. This is actually a strong expectation of the international community for Asia and Europe,” Zhang Jun said at the briefing.
Last Friday, the Chinese ambassador to the European Union Zhang Ming said in an interview with EURACTIV that as a founding member of the ASEM, China has always participated in building consensus with active and cooperative spirits. In recent years, China has vigorously advocated for connectivity with the EU and has put forward many cooperation initiatives towards this end.
"We have noted that many European leaders also stressed that the EU must firmly support multilateralism," Zhang stressed.
China is determined to uphold multilateralism and has never wavered in its belief in multilateralism. As two of the largest economies in the world, China and the EU have much room to cooperate. They can jointly resist protectionism and promote cooperation.