EU urged to reject protectionism
Updated: 2012-09-18 08:04
By Fu Jing in Brussels and Li Xiaokun in Beijing (China Daily)
Envoy stresses cooperation ahead of premier's visit to Brussels summit
Brussels needs to "firmly oppose" protectionism and properly deal with trade disputes to bolster the bilateral partnership with Beijing, a Chinese diplomat has said.
Wu Hailong, Beijing's ambassador to Brussels, made the comments ahead of Premier Wen Jiabao's 10th summit with European leaders in his two-term premiership.
The summit, and Wen's official visit to Belgium on Thursday, occur amid the EU's recent decision to launch an anti-dumping investigation over Chinese solar panels, which involves a business volume of at least $20 billion.
"Now, the sovereignty debt crisis is at a critical stage and the European side should firmly oppose protectionism and properly deal with the trade dispute between China and the EU," Wu told China Daily.
Beijing has previously said that the EU has not followed its own advice, which it gave at a G20 summit in Mexico, when it said that all countries should not step up new trade protection measures before 2014 and should withdraw such measures if already implemented.
Beijing has dispatched trade representatives to Brussels, seeking to resolve the dispute through negotiation and consultation.
Beijing says Brussels agreed to take part in talks, although Brussels refused to confirm this.
"The European side should work together with us to consolidate common understanding and boost confidence in building up a mutually-beneficial, win-win partnership," said Wu.
In Beijing, Vice-Foreign Minister Song Tao on Monday also reiterated China's opposition to trade protectionism.
"The international financial crisis and euro debt crisis has affected both the Chinese and the European economies; China and the EU should make joint efforts to counter the challenges," Song said at a news briefing on Wen's European visit.
Song also hailed the latest moves adopted by the EU and its member states to handle the lingering financial crisis.
On Sept 6, the European Central Bank released a new bond-buying program that will allow open-ended purchases of short-term government bonds to keep borrowing costs down for struggling European countries.
On Sept 12, the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany rejected calls to block the European Stability Mechanism, paving the way for the permanent bailout fund and other crisis-battling instruments.
"We hope that these measures will proceed smoothly and bring in good results," Song said.
Vice-Minister of Finance Zhu Guangyao said at the news briefing that Wen will exchange ideas with leaders from the EU, the eurozone and the European Central Bank to promote "stability of international financial market and global economic recovery".
The Foreign Ministry announced that Wen will meet President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso.
Wu Hailong said Wen's upcoming visit is of "landmark significance" to bilateral relations. Wu said global political geography is being restructured and the impact of the European sovereign debt crisis is growing and deepening around the world.
"This is the 10th time Premier Wen has attended the summit. Over the previous ten years leaders from both sides have made tremendous efforts to push forward bilateral relations," Wu said.
"Time flies but the bilateral relations have witnessed fast progress," he said.
Wu said both sides have set up a comprehensive framework in politics, trade and economy and people-to-people exchanges.
China and the EU are interdependent on trade and economy. In 2011, the bilateral trade volume reached US$567.2 billion, two-fold of that of ten years ago.
Between January and August, the trade figure stood at US$365 billion. And Europe saw a growing inflow of Chinese investment last year, with a year-on-year increase of 94.5 percent, to US$4.46 billion.
"All the cooperation has brought solid benefits to businesses and people of both sides," said Wu. He also said both sides can explore more opportunities in urbanization, energy, environmental protection and innovation.
"European technologies, design and management has great potential to match China's growing need, offering even brighter cooperation prospects," said Wu.
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