Praise for Wen's ready hand of friendship
Updated: 2012-09-20 02:18
By Fu Jing in Brussels (China Daily)
European Council president says sides cannot meet often enough
President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy has said he will ask Beijing to shoulder more international responsibility when he meets with Premier Wen Jiabao in Brussels at the 10th summit with European leaders on Thursday.
In an exclusive interview with China Daily, former prime minister of Belgium, Van Rompuy, 65, said that he also plans to deliver a heartfelt thank you to Wen for his "extraordinary contribution" to the close interdependency between Beijing and Brussels over the past 10 years. He also hopes to sow the seeds of further cooperation.
Van Rompuy said he gives credit to Wen, who is going to retire from his two-term premiership early next year, for leading rounds of business delegations to crisis-stricken Europe since the beginning of the financial crisis, and for his lasting support and help in dealing with the troubled European economy.
Along with signing multi-billion-dollar deals between Chinese and European companies, Wen has repeatedly said "confidence is more valuable than gold" in Europe when markets were bearish.
"I would like to stress that I have really appreciated the support we have received from Premier Wen and the Chinese leadership throughout the euro crisis," said Van Rompuy.
As to the current framework of Beijing-Brussels relations, Wen himself has given strong support.
In October 2003, when Wen attended his first summit, the EU and China agreed to upgrade their relations and launched the "Comprehensive Strategic Partnership".
At that time, Van Rompuy recalls, the EU counted 15 member states and China was the EU's sixth-largest trading partner with an income per capita of around $1,000.
The EU now comprises 27 member states, and China has become the EU's second-largest trading partner. Its per capita income was around $5,400 in 2011.
With such tremendous changes on both sides over last decade, Van Rompuy said a strong and cooperative network based around three high-level dialogues — strategic issues, trade and economy, and people-to-people contacts — have been developed between Beijing and Brussels.
"These three pillars of our cooperation are underpinned by more than 50 sectoral dialogues and mechanisms," he said.
He said the areas of cooperation are further expanding, most recently on security and defense policy issues. The initial bilateral cooperation that focused on trade matters has evolved over a decade into a truly strategic partnership, which goes beyond bilateral trade and cooperation to embrace climate change, peace and security, human rights, energy security and global financial architecture.
"This achievement would not have been possible without the firm and continuous support of Premier Wen, who put relations with the EU among the priorities of Chinese foreign policy," Van Rompuy said.
He also said that both sides expect to sow the seeds of even deeper cooperation between the EU and China at this summit.
Van Rompuy said the summit, the second this year, is in itself proof of strong cooperation and deepening interdependence between China and the EU.
"China and Europe, as major world players, cannot meet frequently enough," Van Rompuy says.
At a summit in February both sides rolled out a long list of cooperation points in a five-page communique, stating that they should work hard on strategically mutual trust, China's market economy status and investment pacts. It also stated the two sides should boost trade volume and refrain from using trade protection measures.
"Since last February's summit in Beijing, intensive work has been carried out to fulfill the decision to further strengthen our bilateral agenda," said Van Rompuy.
The past seven months have seen the launch of the urbanization partnership, the people-to-people dialogue and the cyber task force, among others.
While Beijing is basically satisfied with the progress of bilateral relations, it was unhappy at Brussels' recent decision to open an anti-dumping investigation into solar panel imports to the European market. Critics say it is unfortunate for Brussels to launch the investigation when it still requires Beijing's support to solve the debt crisis.
Van Rompuy said the issue will be discussed at the summit.
Van Rompuy's first official visit as the President of the European Council outside of Europe took place in China in May 2011, and he paid another visit to China in February.
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