Keep to the Right Direction, Seize Opportunities, Break New Ground for China-Europe Economic and Trade Cooperation
—Keynote speech by Ambassador LIU Xiaoming at the 2022 Sino-European Entrepreneurs Summit - Qingdao Forum
(December 20, 2022, Qingdao, Shandong Province)
It is a great pleasure to be back at the Sino-European Entrepreneurs Summit - Qingdao Forum. First of all, let me extend my warm congratulations to the Forum.
The theme of Forum, "Green, Innovation and Global Vision — Promoting High-quality Development with High-level Opening-up", reflects the current situation and times. It is of great significance for us to focus on this theme and explore the ways of development through China-Europe cooperation.
Not long ago, the Communist Party of China (CPC) successfully convened its 20th National Congress. The Congress laid out the principles, policies, objectives and tasks for China's development in the next five years and beyond, and put forward a new blueprint of "advancing the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through Chinese modernization". At present, all Chinese people are studying and implementing in greater depth the guiding principles of the 20th CPC National Congress. Moreover, the country is also marching toward its second centenary goal, attracting worldwide attention. For the economic and trade circles in China and Europe, the important information released by the 20th CPC National Congress is worth in-depth analysis and understanding. In my opinion, the following three points are critical.
First, China's foreign policy maintains a high degree of continuity and stability. According to the report of the 20th CPC National Congress, China will stay committed to upholding world peace, promoting joint development, and building a community with a shared future for humankind. China will never seek hegemony or engage in expansionism. Instead, China is committed to deepening and expanding global partnerships based on equality, openness, and cooperation, and broadening the convergence of interests with other countries. This is the basic policy for China in developing relations with other countries, including Europe. It shows that China will continue to be committed to promoting the healthy and stable development of China-Europe relations, jointly advancing the recovery of the world economy, and bringing more stability and positive energy to the turbulent and changing world.
Second, China has huge potential and broad prospects for development. The report of the 20th CPC National Congress pointed out that "Chinese modernization is the modernization of a huge population". With a population of more than 1.4 billion, China has the world's largest middle-income group. It enjoys advantages in a super-large market, a comprehensive industrial system, a complete industrial chain and an increasingly modern infrastructure system. These provide tremendous opportunities and broad market space for the development of various enterprises. China‘s potential lies in its high-quality development. China is accelerating the establishment of a new development pattern, vigorously promoting high-quality development, and speeding up the green transformation of development model and other strategic deployments. These are manifestations of the Chinese government’s determination to adhere to the development of the real economy, digital economy and green economy, which are the "main racetracks" for Chinese and European enterprises who want to make outstanding achievements.
Third, China is determined to expand high-level opening-up. According to the report of the 20th CPC National Congress, China firmly pursues a win-win strategy of opening up and continues to provide new opportunities for the world with China's new development. China keeps to the right direction of economic globalization and is committed to working with other countries to foster an international environment conducive to growth. Nowadays, the trend of economic globalization is irreversible. No country can seek development behind closed doors, and China has long been deeply integrated into the world economy and the international system. In recent years, the Chinese government has vigorously promoted the reform of "streamlining administration and delegating power, improving regulation and upgrading services", actively implemented high-level investment liberalization and facilitation policies, optimized the foreign investment environment, and significantly relaxed market access. European enterprises have welcomed and hailed these efforts and achievements. In the future, China's resolve to open wider at a high standard and its determination to share development opportunities with the rest of the world will remain unchanged. China will also unwaveringly push for an economic globalization that is more open, inclusive, balanced and win-win to all. China will open its door wider, and China's development will provide more opportunities and inject a more powerful impetus into regional and global development.
At the moment, the COVID-19 pandemic is still lingering. The world economic recovery is suffering setbacks. Crises are emerging in multiple areas including energy and food. These have given rise to uncertainties and instabilities in the international situation. As Europe is also facing multiple challenges and tests, the whole continent is thinking about fundamental issues of long-term relevance, such as strategic autonomy and economic security. In this context, China-Europe economic and trade cooperation is also facing new situations and challenges.
On the one hand, we have seen fruitful economic and trade cooperation between China and Europe, and win-win results remain the central theme. During the visit of President Charles Michel of the European Council to China at the beginning of this month, Chinese President held talks with him. This was the first official meeting between leaders of China and EU institutions after the 20th CPC National Congress. It has played a positive role in strengthening strategic communication, building consensus, and promoting the sustainable and healthy development of China-EU relations. The meeting injects more stability into the current complex and turbulent international situation.
Against the backdrop of COVID-19, China-Europe trade has hit a record high. From January to October this year, China-Europe trade volume grew by 6.3% yearly, and EU investment in China surged by 123.8% yearly. As a result, many European enterprises in China are generally optimistic about China's market and prospects, and continue to increase investment in related fields.
In the first three quarters of this year, the number of China-Europe freight train trips rose by 7% year on year to hit 12,000. Every minute, three TEUs of goods arrive in Europe via China-Europe freight trains. As a landmark project of the Belt and Road Initiative, the China-Europe freight train service connects the two coasts of Eurasia and benefits the countries along the route. Moreover, it shows that China-Europe economic and trade cooperation goes far beyond the bilateral scope and has extensive influence and bright prospects.
On the other hand, in current Europe, "political correctness" is driving out economic rationality. Politicizing trade issues is becoming fashionable. We have noted that the EU has recently rolled out or is considering a series of policies and measures that are sending negative signals on market opening up and fair competition. Many Chinese enterprises investing in Europe have expressed their concerns. The EU is currently discussing reducing "excessive external dependence". We must distinguish between dependence and complementarity, because so-called dependence is often complementarity. China and Europe have strong economic complementarity. It is unrealistic and impossible to decouple the economies of the two sides. China-Europe economic cooperation will only grow increasingly closer and broader. In the face of various challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the global energy crisis, the food crisis, and the rising inflation in many European countries, China and Europe should stay committed to two-way opening up, expand market access, promote the liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment, and especially avoid building new barriers. This is in line with the fundamental and long-term interests of China and Europe. As the two largest economies in the world, China and Europe should take this as our responsibility.
In this regard, Chinese and European entrepreneurs and business people can make a big difference. Here, I'd like to propose three suggestions.
First, the business community should be contributor to steady growth. As the economies of China and Europe are comparable in size and highly complementary, they are vital forces in developing an open world economy. Therefore, the entrepreneurs of China and Europe should shoulder their responsibilities and take active actions to boost the economic growth of both sides through mutually beneficial economic and trade cooperation, consolidate the financial foundation and popular support of China-Europe relations, safeguard the world's multilateral trading system by supporting true multilateralism, and inject more stability and predictability into the turbulent international situation and unpredictable market.
Second, as business leaders, you should be champion of openness and inclusiveness. Like crossing the rough sea in a fierce storm, we should all row together. Global economic recovery is in difficulty, complicated by multiple crises. At this moment, attempts to "decouple”, “cut supply chains" or "build walls" will only be counterproductive and lose people's support. I hope that entrepreneurs from China and Europe will make active efforts to uphold economic globalization and build an open and inclusive world economy, and resolutely oppose any attempt to politicize and weaponize economic and trade issues and impose unjustified restrictions that undermine the stability of industrial and supply chains.
Third, the business leaders should be pioneer in green innovation. Green and digital economy is the focus of industrial transformation in China and Europe, and also a necessary engine to drive global economic and social change and promote high-quality development. Business circles in China and Europe can seek business opportunities in broad fields such as clean energy, green transportation, green manufacturing, digital economy, and artificial intelligence. Last year, China and Europe held two fruitful high-level dialogues on the environment and climate. Enterprises of the two sides can build on this excellent momentum by exploring ways to strengthen cooperation through setting up mechanisms, joint research centre and fund. Together you can promote the continuous development of the China-EU green partnership.
Finally, I hope that Chinese and European entrepreneurs can keep to the right direction and seize opportunities in the shifting landscape to open up new horizons, so that the economic and trade cooperation between the two sides will achieve more fruitful results, benefiting both China and Europe and the world at large.