Together we can make a difference (China Daily)

By H.E. Ambassador Yang Yanyi, Head of the Chinese Mission to the EU (China Daily)

b083fe955fbe1a80a05602Journalists walk past decorations at the media center of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, capital of China, May 12, 2017.[Photo/Xinhua]

The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation to be held in Beijing on Sunday and Monday will see the participation of some 1,500 officials, scholars, entrepreneurs from more than 130 countries, and representatives from more than 70 international organizations. Of the 29 heads of state and government who will participate in the forum, quite a few are from Europe. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, too, will take part in the forum.

At a time when the global economic recovery is still sluggish, trade and investment remains weak, and growth impetus unstable, the forum offers an excellent opportunity to review the gains and, more importantly, to build a closer and stronger partnership.

China and the European Union share much in common in pursuing shared growth, development and connectivity, including through the Belt and Road Initiative, and have come up with a proud record so far.

At the 17th China-EU Summit in 2015, China and the EU agreed to synergize the initiative and the Investment Plan for Europe. China and some EU countries have signed inter-governmental cooperation agreements and launched a Belt and Road working group mechanism to jointly advance the initiative. Also, China and 16 Central and Eastern European countries have worked closely to enhance cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative and the 16+1 framework.

As concrete steps to promote seamless traffic flows, China and the EU signed an MOU for the establishment of a “Connectivity Platform”. China has launched railway freight service to some European countries. And cooperation in such areas as railways, ports, airports, power, transportation and logistics has gathered momentum.

The two sides are also working together to deepen dialogue and cooperation in information and communications technology.

To develop practical financial avenues for mutually beneficial cooperation, China and the EU agreed to set up a co-investment fund. And early this year, China became the 67th member of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.

The Beijing forum has now raised the two sides’ interest in exploring potential areas of cooperation to create fresh energy for pursuing interconnected development. To contribute to the ongoing efforts and deliberations, here are my suggestions.

First, the Belt and Road Initiative is guided by the spirit of openness and constructive cooperation. Given the rising protectionist and anti-globalization sentiments in many parts of the world, it is in our interest that China and the EU stay committed to free trade and economic openness, a rules-based, transparent and fair international trading regime and order, and open up markets, oppose protectionism and secure greater connectivity and economic development and prosperity.

Second, the initiative is a win-win formula. The notion that this project is designed to enable China to access new markets, which will pose a challenge, even “threat”, to the future of Europe is wrong, as it neglects the fresh perspectives it will bring to European integration. Being open, transparent, harmonious and inclusive, the initiative is an invitation to all economies along the Belt and Road routes to build synergies between their development strategies and the initiative, explore cooperation, and share the benefits of the projects.

Third, it is time that China and the EU capitalized on the new opportunities offered by the initiative. Among others, China wishes to broaden policy coordination and advance cooperation consensus through an institutionalized dialogue mechanism, more closely collaborate on concrete projects within the China-EU Connectivity Platform, work closely to explore ways and means of joint financing and initiating projects, and deepen China-EU legal affairs dialogue with a view to creating a favorable environment for business.

We are more than ready to add new dimensions to our cooperation with the EU. For instance, given that China is transforming its economic development model based on innovation, and innovation remains essential to European integration, we should make deepening cooperation in science and technology and innovation our top priority.

And fourth, we hope that at the Beijing forum and the 19th China-EU Summit, China and the EU will send out this positive message: as the two parties vital to the maintenance of world peace and promotion of common development and shared destiny, China and the EU will shoulder the shared responsibility of promoting the construction of a more fair, reasonable and balanced global governance system based on openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, and that together we can make a difference.

The author is the head of the Chinese Mission to the European Union. 

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