The European Union is committed to pursuing its engagement in China and to strengthening its partnership with that country, as demonstrated by the thirteenth EU-China Summit which will take place in Brussels on 6 October 2010, back-to-back to the ASEM Summit. The People’s Republic of China will be represented by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. The EU will be represented by Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and by José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission.
The parties are expected to discuss the following issues:
- EU-China relations, notably how to strengthen the Strategic Partnership;
- global issues, in particular global governance, climate change, energy; and
- regional and international issues such as recent developments in Afghanistan and Pakistan or non-proliferation.
People’s Republic of China, with approximately 1.340 million inhabitants, has the largest population in the world and occupies a position of geo-strategic importance in the Asian continent as well as in the Pacific sphere. At a global level, China maintains an essential role within the G20.
EU diplomatic relations with China were established in 1975 and are governed by the 1985 EU-China Trade and Cooperation Agreement and seven other legally binding agreements.
Following the financial crisis, China has re-emerged as the world’s third economy and the biggest exporter in the global economy, but also an increasingly important political power. EU-China trade has risen dramatically in the last decades and the EU remains China’s biggest trading partner.
In 2003, an EU-China comprehensive strategic partnership was launched, followed in October 2006 by a Communication entitled “EU-China: Closer Partners, Growing Responsibilities” and a policy paper on Trade, aiming for a close and comprehensive partnership with China, bilaterally and in the multilateral context. China released a White paper on relations with the EU in 2003; its first-ever White paper on relations with a foreign partner.
In January 2007, negotiations were launched on a new EU-China Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), intending to reflect the full breadth and depth of the EU China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
At the twelfth EU-China Summit (30 November 2009 — Nanjing) a wide range of global issues were discussed: climate change, the financial crisis, energy and resource security, food security, the environment and public health security. The two sides reaffirmed their active commitment to peace and sustainable development of the world, as well as to the peaceful resolution of disputes.
Since bilateral ties between the EU and China were established thirty five years ago, trade relations have expanded from €4 billion in 1978 to €296 billion in 2009. Today, the EU is China’s most important trading partner, while for the EU, China is second only to the United States. Europe’s imports from China have grown by around 16.5% per year for the period 2004–2008. In 2009, the EU still imported €215 billion worth of goods from China; thus China remains Europe’s biggest source of manufactured imports.
Energy and climate change
The EU and China established a Partnership on Climate Change at the 2005 EU-China Summit. The focus of the Partnership is on concrete action: the progress and deployment of clean energy technology. One major objective is the development and demonstration of advanced, “zero emissions” coal technology based on CO2 capture and geological storage. On the 6–7 November 2008, the 7th EU-China Energy Conference gathered the high-level European and Chinese representatives from industry and administration.
Science and technology
The agreement with China signed in 1998 governs our science and technology (S&T) cooperation and its renewal for another 5‑year period was endorsed in Nanjing on the occasion of the 12th EU-China Summit. The 7th Framework Programme is the main European financial tool to support joint research. China is the EU’s 3rd largest partner after the United States and Russia; approximately 150 Chinese researchers have participated in the 7th Framework Programme (2007–2013). China has also participated in the flagship Galileo project.
In recent years, the successful EU-China cooperation included the following flagship initiatives:
- The China-Europe International Business School (CEIBS — in Shanghai since the mid-1990s, €33m) and the China-Europe School of Law (CESL — in Beijing since 2008, €17.5m).
- The Europe-China Clean Energy Centre EC2 in Beijing (€10m) and the International Institute for Clean and Renewable Energy in Wuhan (€15m) are the main channels for cooperation in the field of energy and sustainable development (launched in April 2010).
- China is a beneficiary of Erasmus Mundus funding, with a specific “China Window” that has funded nearly one thousand Chinese students to go to study in Europe (€26m).
International security cooperation
The EU and China hold regular consultations at expert level on non-proliferation and conventional arms exports. There was also established an EU-China dialogue on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW). The first session of this dialogue took place in June and addressed the EU’s and China’s policies in the field. The EU and China have joined efforts in fighting piracy in the Gulf of Aden.
The EU-China human rights dialogue was established in 1995 and is held twice a year, rotating between China and the EU, at the level of senior officials. The most recent session was held in Madrid, on 29 June 2010. The topics discussed in previous sessions included: ratification of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); media freedom; human rights defenders; death penalty; re-education through labour system; minority rights; and the rule of law.
Council of the European Union