Xinhua Commentary: Uncertain times call for steady China-EU ties

BEIJING, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- President of the European Council Charles Michel will visit China on Thursday at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. His trip is expected to push for the sustained growth of China-European Union (EU) ties, which will inject more stability in a turbulent and changing world.

Michel will be the first leader of the EU institution to visit the country after the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

Before Michel's visit, Xi had in-person meetings with several leaders from EU countries, including French President Emmanuel Macron, on the sidelines of the 17th Group of 20 Summit in mid-November. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also visited China earlier this month.

Such interactions reveal growing willingness between both sides to further develop common interests and consolidate the foundation for cooperation.

In past years, practical dialogues between the two sides have yielded impressive results, illustrated by a strong relationship of economic cooperation.

From January to October, bilateral trade reached 711.3 billion U.S. dollars, a year-on-year increase of 6.3 percent. In the first eight months, the EU's FDI inflow into China jumped an astonishing 123.7 percent year-on-year, data from China's Ministry of Commerce showed.

When meeting Michel and Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, via video in April, Xi called for seeking greater synergy between their development strategies and exploring more complementarity between China's new development philosophy and paradigm and the EU's trade policy for open strategic autonomy.

Still, ties have encountered headwinds, with some EU politicians abiding by Washington's so-called values-oriented diplomacy. However, towing Washington's line disregards the interests of the European people.

Washington has reaped considerable profits by inflaming the Ukraine crisis, pushing others, including Europe, to bear the painful consequences, such as the current energy fiasco. As the harsh winter arrives, the United States is selling energy at much higher prices to the bloc in dire need of gas. Macron was quoted as saying in October, "That is not exactly the meaning of friendship."

Countries have their share of agreements and disagreements. Their differences should not become a barrier to mutually beneficial cooperation. What really counts is whether they could accommodate each other's core interests, pursue the biggest common ground in spirit of mutual trust and mutual respect, and prevent nonessential differences from spoiling the big picture of win-win cooperation.

Clearly, the union should form its own perception and adopt an independent China policy.

During his talk with Scholz in early November, Xi underscored that China always regards Europe as a comprehensive strategic partner, supports the strategic autonomy of the EU and wishes Europe stability and prosperity.

China maintains that its relations with Europe are not targeted at, dependent on, or subjected to a third party -- a strategic consensus that both sides should follow in the long run.

China-Europe relations bear on global stability and prosperity in Eurasia. Amid complex global challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic's lingering impacts, an intensifying climate crisis and a wobbling global economy, the two sides have even more reasons to strengthen strategic communication and build consensus.

After all, China and Europe depend on each other with needs that are "not fundamentally different," while "viable answers to global challenges can only be found together with China," as former German Defence Minister Rudolf Scharping put it.

Many in Europe pin their hopes on cooperation with China to help address global challenges. Former World Trade Organization Director-General Pascal Lamy has advocated the EU and China join hands to reduce carbon emissions in response to climate change. And former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin expects the two sides to strive for "a multipolar world" and "a balanced global governance" through dialogue and cooperation.

In times fraught with uncertainty, fostering a China-EU partnership for peace, growth, reform and civilization has become more relevant. For the two champions of peace, big markets and great civilizations, their steady relations will become a force for good in the world. 

Editor: Tian Shenyoujia
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