Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's recent trip to Europe was a fruitful one. Apart from signing a series of agreements on economic and trade cooperation, its biggest highlight was the laying of the practical foundations of the new China-Europe innovative partnership.
When President Xi Jinping visited Germany in March, an innovative partnership was featured as the theme of bilateral relations. During his visit, Premier Li filled in important details. The innovative partnership, which covers areas ranging from politics and the economy to culture, health and social security, has now entered the stage of comprehensive implementation.
China and Germany enjoy a high level of political mutual trust as well as close business ties. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has paid seven official visits to China, outnumbering all other incumbent state leaders. Moreover, Germany is the only Western country that has set up an inter-governmental consultation mechanism with China, in addition to being the first Western country to propose "Industry 4.0" cooperation with China.
The China-Germany relationship is an experimental field of the China-Europe innovative partnership. While in Russia, Li attended the opening ceremony of the Moscow International Forum for Innovative Development. During his visit to Italy, he took part in the China-Italy "innovation week." All of these activities demonstrate that innovation was the core of Li's Europe tour.
Efforts to develop an innovative partnership will contribute to the deepening of China-Europe relations, presenting precious opportunities for collaboration.
China and Europe are both at a key period of development as they face the common missions of stabilizing growth, adjusting structures and promoting employment. After undergoing more than 30 years of rapid growth, the Chinese economy has now entered a "new normal" period. The Chinese Government hopes to maintain moderately high economic growth through reform and innovation. The experience of developed European countries is worth drawing a lesson from. As for Europe, its economic recovery and growth require greater capital and bigger markets—requirements that China just so happens to meet.
China and Europe are now major partners in coping with global challenges. The two sides have made joint efforts to prevent conflicts and address international issues, with significant achievements on issues concerning Iran and North Korea.
The China-proposed Silk Road Economic Belt connects China and Europe together. Both sides have expressed a strong willingness to build up this belt and have already taken action. This program appears poised to help them forge even closer connections.
Now is an opportune moment for China and Europe to develop a new innovative partnership. The Action Outline for China-Germany Cooperation issued during Li's visit will spearhead the stable, healthy and smooth development of this partnership.