Work Together to Embrace a New Era of High-standard and Mutually Beneficial Cooperation
– Speech at the 12th China-EU Business Summit
H.E. Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China
Brussels, 2 June 2017
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to come to the beautiful city of Brussels and join you for the China-EU Business Summit. On behalf of the Chinese government, I would like to congratulate you on the success of the Business Summit and pay tribute to people from all sectors who have long been committed to promoting friendship and cooperation between China and Europe.
Belgium is known as the “crossroads” of Europe and Brussels is at the “heart” of Europe. From here, one can feel the “pulse” of this continent and see the direction of international evolution. The global economy and trade are now showing positive changes which bolster our sense of optimism, but the foundation for continued growth is not yet secure and uncertainties still abound. Economic globalization is encountering difficulties. Challenges such as regional conflicts, terrorism and large movement of refugees and migrants remain acute.
As two leading players for promoting world peace and common development, how China and the EU respond to such a complex situation will be keenly watched around the world. My visit to Europe is aimed at building consensus, increasing mutual trust and enhancing cooperation between China and Europe to counter international uncertainties with a stable China-EU relationship and our consistent commitment to multilateralism.
China firmly supports a united, prosperous and stable Europe. Europe is home to the largest number of developed countries and the EU is an important pole in the world political and economic arena. A united, stable, prosperous and open Europe and a strong euro serve the fundamental interests of all European peoples and contribute to world multipolarity, economic globalization and diversity of civilizations. China has all along placed strategic importance on its relations with the EU and considers the EU as a diplomatic priority. No matter how the situation in Europe and the world evolves, China will always be ready to deepen its comprehensive strategic partnership with the EU. We will continue to give firm support to the European integration process and respect the development paths chosen by European countries themselves. We have full confidence that Europe has the wisdom and capability to overcome current difficulties and achieve new progress in development.
China and the EU need to remain committed to the overall direction of economic globalization. In his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year, President Xi Jinping underscored China’s commitment to upholding free trade and put forward the proposition of making economic globalization more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial to all. His message has given a boost to people’s confidence in economic globalization. Powered by trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, economic globalization has always been and will continue to be a major driver for sustained global growth. Just as there is no panacea in the world which does not involve any pain, economic globalization is not problem-free. We need to face up to these problems and make efforts to address and alleviate their adverse impacts. In any case, one cannot stop eating for fear of choking, to apply the brakes on economic globalization or try to reverse course is neither advisable nor consistent with the historical trend. The most urgent task now is to uphold free trade, re-energize trade and investment, push the global economy onto the track of steady recovery and spread the benefits of economic globalization to more countries and communities. Both being beneficiaries of free trade, China and the EU should also be its staunch advocates.
Some people raised the issue of fair trade. As a matter of fact, free trade is the premise of fair trade. Restricting free trade will not make trade fairer. Fairness is an inherent feature of free trade, and trade, if not fair, will not be sustainable. Fair trade should reflect multilateral, inclusive and non-discriminatory principles. Attempting to impose unilateral rules or making fair trade a political issue will not lead anywhere.
China and the EU need to jointly uphold the rules-based multilateral economic and trade order. The multilateral trading regime with the WTO at its core provides important institutional safeguard for economic globalization. Its authority and efficacy should be respected and upheld. Even though some of the multilateral rules may no longer reflect changing circumstances, we can all engage in consultations on improving them. No one should turn a blind eye to these rules, still less try to start anew.
China has fully honored its commitments as a member of the WTO, and other members are supposed to do the same. The EU is a leading maker of modern economic and trade rules and a standard-bearer of regional economic cooperation. As such, it is in the interests of the EU to observe multilateral rules and uphold the multilateral system. Article 15 of China’s WTO Accession Protocol is a “sunset clause,” which obliges all members to unconditionally cease, upon the date of its expiry, the application of analogue country methodology in their anti-dumping investigations against China. On the issue of complying with Article 15 obligations, we hope the EU will send a positive signal of upholding the multilateral system and rules. If all WTO members chose to observe international rules in a selective way, this would trigger cycles of reactions and undercut the foundation of the multilateral order. No one will emerge as a winner eventually.
China and the EU need to jointly maintain a peaceful and stable environment for development. Peace, development, openness and cooperation are interconnected and inseparable. Without peace and stability, nothing could be achieved. Having both suffered from the miseries of war, the people of China and Europe deeply value peace. The prevalent trend for peace in the world for the past 70 years and more has been no mean feat and should be all the more cherished. China and the EU need to firmly uphold the norms governing international relations underpinned by the UN Charter, never waver from political settlement of hotspot issues, and address global challenges on the basis of consensus-building, in a joint effort to promote durable peace and common development of the world.
The situation on the Korean Peninsula is highly sensitive and complex. China has remained firmly committed to denuclearization, to the maintenance of peace and stability on the Peninsula and in the region and to resolution through dialogue and consultation. Past experience has shown that this is the responsible approach to take. Protracted conflict in Syria has been a source of concern. The international community should respect the choice of development path made by the Syrian people and work for the early political settlement of the issue. Terrorism is a common enemy to all mankind, and both China and Europe have suffered enormously from this scourge. Terrorism in whatever form must be combated with full resolve.