FOUR DECADES ON: Visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi attend an event marking the 40th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties in Rome on October 7. They also inaugurated the Chinese Culture Year, a yearlong program aimed at spreading knowledge of Chinese culture in Italy (RAO AIMIN)
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao stressed during his recent Eurasian tour that China would continue to cooperate with other countries to revive the world economy. He pointed out that it is irrational for foreign countries to push for the appreciation of the renminbi without a good reason, and that the renminbi's exchange rate is a poor excuse for some countries' sliding economies.
Chinese analysts noted that now is a good time for European countries to increase cooperation with China, but obstacles remain that could hinder the progress of the China-EU relationship.
Wen paid official visits to Greece, Belgium, Italy and Turkey and attended the eighth Asia-Europe Meeting and the 13th China-EU Summit on October 2-9. During the eight days, the Chinese premier took part in more than 70 events and paid a brief visit to Germany as a guest of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said Wen's four-nation tour further deepened China-EU cooperation and improved bilateral relations between China and the four countries, describing the visit as a "complete success."
Wen's tour was aimed at boosting mutual trust through dialogue and promoting common development through cooperation. Steadily strengthening China-EU relations is an important part of China's foreign relations. And these relations are of strategic significance to the world's future, Yang said.
In recent years, development of the China-EU relationship has been tremendous, and trade and economic cooperation has been the most successful part. According to statistics from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, the trade volume between the two sides was $2.4 billion in 1975, the year they established a diplomatic relationship. Bilateral trade volume reached $425.6 billion in 2008, more than 175 times the 1975 total.
Affected by the global financial crisis, the China-EU trade volume dropped to $364.1 billion in 2009, which still accounted for 16.5 percent of China's total foreign trade. Since the beginning of this year, China-EU trade has nearly returned to pre-crisis levels: Bilateral trade volume during the first half of 2010 exceeded $210 billion, up 37 percent from the same period of last year.
Today, the EU is China's top trade partner and biggest buyer, and China is the EU's second biggest trade partner and biggest buyer.
Wan Jifei, Chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, told Xinhua News Agency on October 5 the time is right to expand China-EU trade cooperation because China's economic development is in a key transitional period, while the EU is still trying to overcome the financial crisis.
Wan said China is transitioning from low-end industries to hi-tech and high-value-added industries. The EU has advantages in hi-tech industries as well as medical and chemical industries. Chinese enterprises can develop cooperation with European countries for their technological advantages, Wan said, adding that many Chinese enterprises have now established research centers in Europe.
He said European countries were badly hurt by the financial crisis, and many are still seeking a way out. China can be a huge market for them, help them break the bottleneck of economic development and create job opportunities through cooperation. The China-EU trade and economic cooperation is entering a new development phase, and the bilateral cooperation has a bright future, he said.