For the 15th anniversary of the global strategic partnership between China and the European Union, on December 18, 2018, China unveiled its latest policy paper on the European Union. The previous ones were published in 2003 and 2014. This document addresses many points and calls for a strengthening of exchanges between the two powers.
China is making cooperation with the EU one of its top priorities and is asking Europe to continue the EU China strategic agenda for Cooperation formulated in 2013.
In this new document, China promotes stability in both regions. Beijing calls on European Union members to abide by the “one China” policy, and China, for its part, reaffirms its support for European integration and hopes for a swift resolution of Brexit. European integration is a real subject of interest for China.
China appreciates the consensual approach of the European Union and the efforts of its members to seek dialogue, not confrontation. Beijing calls on Brussels to work together to fight protectionism and promote multilateralism.
Thus, in the second part of this document focuses on China and EU’s diplomatic priority to find solutions to global crises through the UN system; it seems that Beijing wants to increase its cooperation with Europe on defense and counterterrorism.
Through this policy paper, China aims to boost trade with the European Union, and supports European investments in its country. Beijing said it will continue to open its market to all European companies and hopes that the European Union will facilitate the activities of Chinese investors in Europe by eliminating possible obstacles and that the EU will respect WTO rules.
This policy paper mentions the possibility of a free trade agreement between China and the European Union.
According to this document, China and the European Union would continue to dialogue to continue to cooperate on intellectual property rights.
This policy paper also addresses the issue of scientific exchange, innovation and the environment. Beijing hopes to develop with Europe new cooperation projects especially in sustainable development and bio-technologies.
With this document, Beijing calls on Europe to strengthen dialogue on digital issues and to work together on data protection, especially at the legal level, so that all European and Chinese companies have access to both markets.
Regarding the environment, China and Europe can increase their cooperation in the field of water and forest management. The issue of energy, particularly nuclear energy, is addressed in this document. As with other sectors, Beijing hopes for greater cooperation with Europe.
Finally, this policy paper for Sino-European Relations addresses cultural exchanges between the two regions and formulates actions to enhance mobility between Europeans and Chinese. Beijing supports all actions to promote a better mutual understanding between China and Europe.
Invitation to the Belt and Road Initiative
This policy paper mentions of course the “Belt and Road initiative” and calls on all Europeans to join the new Silk Roads. China does not see the EU’s Europe-Asia connectivity project as a possible competitor to the BRI, but considers this project an opportunity to develop cooperation between the two powers. Beijing is hoping for new synergies to boost trade between Europe and Asia.
In the field of transport, the authors of the document call for a greater simplification of transport procedures to reduce delivery times between Europe and China by rail transport and make the “China Railway Express” which services nearly 65 railway lines connecting China to Europe, more competitive.
For Beijing, China and Europe can also cooperate on sustainable development along the new Silk Roads.
This document is important because it shows China’s interest to develop exchanges with the European Union, it is an invitation from Beijing to Brussels, and Europe must now accept this open hand to fully cooperate with China.