High attention on China, Europe looks to the East for opportunities

By: XinhuaFrom:English Edition of Xinhua | Updated: 2018-Feb-2 11:11
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BEIJING, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- At the beginning of the new year, more and more European leaders are eager to learn about China.

French President Emmanuel Macron became the first foreign head of state to visit China in 2018, followed by British Prime Minister Theresa May from Wednesday to Friday, with Dutch King Willem-Alexander arriving on Feb. 7.

Also in January, parliamentary leaders of Nordic and Baltic countries visited China and met with President Xi Jinping, hoping for more high-level communication and deeper cooperation.

The exchanges with Europe have became a highlight of China's diplomacy recently. Analysts believe closer China-Europe interaction signals that Europe values China's influence on global affairs and longs for closer cooperation with it.

"European countries, which are currently undergoing a number of internal and external problems, urgently need Chinese wisdom in approaching regional and world affairs," said Cui Hongjian, director of the China Institute of International Studies.

In his report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, Xi said the country will foster a new type of international relations and build a community with a shared future for mankind.

By in-depth communication with Chinese leaders, European countries could get more insights on China's policies, seek broader cooperation opportunities, and control differences on regional and global affairs, analysts said.

During Macron's meeting with Xi in Beijing, both leaders called for the integration of their development strategies, and cooperation on combating climate change, terrorism and cyber security.

"For Britain, May is expected to seek to bolster her country's political links with China and maximize its benefits from China's economic opening amid its contentious divorce with the European Union," said Wang Yiwei, an expert on Europe with Renmin University of China.

May will also take the opportunity to discuss a wide range of regional and global issues with her Chinese interlocutors, ranging from climate change and global governance to the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue and fighting terrorism, according to Wang.

"London also has high expectations on the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, an infrastructure and trade network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa," Wang said.

Experts believe that with more and more cooperative projects under the Belt and Road framework, Europe has increasingly accepted Chinese wisdom.

"The successful establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank convinced Europe that China can take the lead in providing solutions to world problems," Wang said.

Macron expressed the willingness to strengthen coordination between France and China, both permanent members of the UN Security Council, saying that they needed to shoulder major responsibilities in global security.

Furthermore, experts believe both China and Europe are natural partners in defending the multilateral trade system.

"With U.S. persistent moves on trade protectionism, China-Europe ties have a chance to record a new high as both sides remained committed to free trade and globalization," said Feng Zhongping, vice president of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.

Senior Chinese official Liu He's speech at this year's World Economic Forum annual meeting in January outlined how China would open wider to the world, further integrate with international trade rules and ease market access.

"It is an inevitable choice for Europe to look to China for cooperation of mutual benefit and a win-win result," Wang said.

(Tian Chenxu and He Lixia also contributed to the story.)