Opening remarks by EU Ambassador to China Mr. Hans Dietmar Schweisgut at the EU-China Think Thank Dialogue in Beijing (06/04/2016)

Opening remarks

Dear Assistant Minister Liu Haixing, 

President Su Ge,

Managing Director Wiegand,

Ambassadors,

Excellences,

Ladies and Gentlemen

 

I am greatly honoured to open – together with President Su Ge - the first EU-China think tank dialogue. Today and tomorrow, distinguished guests, academics and practitioners will discuss and debate a long-term vision of EU-China relations under all the four pillars of our Strategic Agenda 2020 for Cooperation.

Think tanks play an important role in modern policy-making. I am pleased to see that leading institutes from Europe and China have come together to reflect on the achievements and challenges in our bilateral relationship. They come from different backgrounds and present different approaches. They will also offer different advice and suggestions. This diversity may be a source of inspiration for decision-makers on both sides, but also to all those who are here with us today and tomorrow.

The 40th anniversary of the establishment of EU-China diplomatic relations spurred the vitality of our bilateral strategic partnership. With the EU-China Strategic Agenda remaining the common framework for EU-China cooperation, new fields of collaboration are emerging, highlighting the increasing roles and responsibilities of Europe and China as global players.

We need an ambitious vision of the future. In the constantly changing world the EU and China must quickly make strategic choices. What does the EU-China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership actually mean and how does it translate into practical cooperation? And what should be the priorities for the next decade or more? Think tanks are well placed to take an active part in this debate.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Foreign and security policy, the first pillar of our cooperation, is becoming a major aspect of EU-China relations. Given that today's international problems cannot be solved by acting individually, our cooperation is increasingly essential for us to carry our weight in maintaining regional and global security. Armed conflicts, terrorism, piracy, or migration flows call for the EU and China to share global interests and responsibilities. How can we play a greater and more constructive role and contribute to resolving global and regional problems?

The second pillar of our cooperation, trade and investment, remains at the core of our relationship, with Chinese and European people reaping the benefits of growth, employment and dynamism. What are the new drivers and challenges of our relationship? How to achieve real openness and reciprocity? The Comprehensive Investment Agreement will be of key importance, unlocking further two-way growth. Also the High-Level Economic Dialogue will play an increasingly important role in our cooperation. And there will be other elements to contribute to building an ever deeper, ambitious and balanced relationship.

Thirdly, a "new agenda" that emerged in recent years relates to connectivity, ICT and innovation. Here again, we need to ensure a level-playing field and set the right conditions for successful activities of mutual benefit. Cooperation on infrastructure, too, may offer huge potential. It will need to be based on high social and environmental standards and respect established rules and principles. How to implement commitments taken at COP-21 in Paris will be another huge challenge as well as to strengthen cooperation with third countries to better implement the 2030 agenda for sustainable development?

Finally, through ambitious people-to-people initiatives, our fourth pillar of cooperation, we have made enormous progress on issues ranging from visa facilitation and more tourism to student mobility to academic and cultural cooperation. So what are the future prospects for increased mobility between the Europeans and Chinese? How do we encourage stronger exchanges between young leaders, business people, academia, think-tanks and civil society organisations? And how can we reinforce cooperation on human rights, a very important and integral part of our agenda?

Ladies and gentlemen,

Only this morning, the EU and China have held an official mid-term review of the 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation. Officials from both sides shared their views. Now it is time for the think tanks to have another look. I wish you a fruitful dialogue.