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Xi's initiatives for EU partnership

2014-04-03 08:52 China Daily Web Editor: Wang Fan

The president's intensive discussions, speeches and articles show the importance Chinese leadership attaches to relationship

President Xi Jinping's European trip from March 22 to Tuesday, including a visit to the European Union's headquarters, has displayed clearly the importance the EU has in China's diplomatic agenda.  [Special coverage]

To show how important the European Union is for China was one of the priorities of Xi's visit. More importantly, his trip to the Netherlands, France, Germany and Belgium, and visit to the EU's headquarters had three purposes: to explore ways to deepen and expand China-EU bilateral economic and trade cooperation; to transcend trading relations and enrich China-EU strategic cooperation; and to deepen mutual understanding, reduce trade and political frictions and realize the stable development of bilateral relations.

After struggling with its debt crisis for years, the eurozone is finally emerging from recession, but it still has to overcome the stubbornly high unemployment and weak growth. The EU countries attach great importance to the Chinese market and hope to further expand exports to China. They are also keen to attract China's outbound investment to help fuel their economic growth and increase employment opportunities. As a result, various EU countries placed high hopes on Xi's visit, which was seen as a major opportunity to expand China-EU economic and trade cooperation. European media also focused on the various economic and trade agreements signed during Xi's visit.

Economic and trade cooperation is the largest converging interest between China and the EU, and is also the cornerstone of a stable bilateral relationship. China's focus is to maintain the EU's status as China's largest trading partner and ensure smooth passage for its exports into the EU. China-EU trade in 2013 reached $559 billion, enabling the EU to be China's largest trading partner for 10 years in a row. Beijing hopes to speed up negotiations toward a China-EU investment agreement. China also wants to maintain technical cooperation with EU countries, which is reflected not only in their expanding cooperation in nuclear energy, aeronautics and astronautics, automobile and other traditional fields, but also in jointly researching and developing intelligent manufacturing, the Internet of Things, the new generation of information technology and other new growth areas. Xi's trip shows that in the eyes of the Chinese leadership the EU and its member states are not merely China's most important economic and trade partners, they are also partners in science and technology.

The European debt crisis gave birth to the popular view of the so-called European decline. However, on the contrary, the prevailing view in Chinese academic and political circles is that the EU is still an important force in the world, and that view did not change even when the debt crisis was at its severest.

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