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It was a great pleasure for me to welcome back again the State Councilor, my good friend, the Foreign Minister [of China] Wang Yi - with whom I have been working very closely together during these almost-five-years of my mandate - for the European Union–China Strategic Dialogue that we just held. We will continue the day together, as he [Wang Yi] will be meeting at the informal working lunch the Foreign Ministers of all the 28 EU Member States together with me. It is the first time ever that the Chinese Foreign Minister participates at a Foreign Affairs Council and I believe this is in itself telling of the state of play and the level of intensity of our exchanges and our cooperation that have now reached, I would say, an unprecedented level.
In the Strategic Dialogue we have addressed, first of all, our bilateral relationship, but we have also prepared the [EU-China] Summit that we will hold here in Brussels at the beginning of April. The European Council will also be an opportunity for me to debrief the Heads of State and Government on the exchanges we have had today. And, obviously, we have covered also a certain number of foreign policy and regional issues on which our cooperation is constantly ongoing.
The European Union is committed to strengthening cooperation with China. China is a leading global power economically and politically, and for the European Union it is a comprehensive strategic partner. We are cooperating intensely and successfully on many areas where we share interests. I can mention some of the global issues on which we clearly have cooperated and continue to cooperate: from the Iran nuclear deal to climate change - the implementation of the Paris Agreement -, the Sustainable Development Goals and, in general terms, support to the multilateral international rules-based order. We have identified potential areas to do more together in the international sphere and how to ensure that European Union-China relations are set on a fair, respectful, balanced and mutually-beneficial course. This was the spirit of our discussion today, which was extremely positive and friendly.
We also focused on some specific fields of bilateral action that could also benefit the global environment, from the work that we can do together on investments, for instance on the protection of geographical indications, on connectivity, on the basis of international norms and standards, on cybersecurity. And we also discussed how to expand our cooperation on global challenges, in particular when it comes to promoting an open global economy, upholding a rules-based global order, and keeping the multilateral cooperation on track; this is particularly important when it comes to WTO [World Trade Organisation] reform on which the [EU-China] Summit should send a strong signal and on which we have established a common working group.
As I mentioned, we also agreed to continue working very closely together to support the UN agenda, in particular when it comes to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change. We also have a Human Rights Dialogue in place that is for us an extremely important space for a constructive, frank, forward-looking exchange of views. We also discussed this with the State Councilor today and I hope and I believe that the next Human Rights Dialogue could be held soon. This is one of the areas where our points of view might differ, but a friendship and a partnership like ours also has ways to address issues where our views are not one hundred percent converging.
Given the international context, our exchanges focused, as usual, also on a number of foreign policy and regional issues. First of all, we continue to work hand-in-hand together to ensure the continued implementation of the nuclear agreement with Iran that we together negotiated for long nights and days. We also work together and are ready to work more together to accompany developments in the Korean Peninsula, but also in Afghanistan, in Venezuela and in Africa, where both China and the European Union have important roles to play. We also agreed that we will strengthen our cooperation in the field of security and defence with a dialogue that has started in the last few years and that we intend to intensify. So my dear friend [Wang Yi], thank you very much for your visit to Brussels. I am looking forward to a very successful [EU-China] Summit in a few weeks' time and very good cooperation on the world scene between China and the European Union.
Link to the video: https://tvnewsroom.consilium.europa.eu/events/20190318-eu-china-strategi...
Q. You [State Councilor Wang Yi] talked a lot about cooperation between the EU and China but last week the European Union labelled China a “systemic rival” and promised to take action to constrain what Europeans say are unfair Chinese trade and economic practices. How do you [State Councilor] respond to that strategy and the accusation that China deploys divide and rule in its approach to the European Union? High Representative, you mentioned cybersecurity in the list of issues that you touched on. Did you raise the issue of the security of telecom and 5G networks with Mr Wang? Did you receive any assurances from him that China is willing to review its laws in this area, in particular on forcing Chinese companies to cooperate with Chinese intelligence services?
It is true, last week we presented and we adopted a Joint Communication that first and foremost comes on top of the existing documents we already have on our strategic positioning on China.
I believe it is important to frame this overall picture. We have an Agenda 2020 [the EU-China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation] that we have discussed with the Minister [Wang Yi] that we are going to review and relaunch during the [EU-China] Summit for the period after 2020.
We have an EU Strategy on China that we adopted in 2016, which frames our partnership, our cooperation with all its different facets, be it of cooperation but also of divergences.
Then, we have this Joint Communication we presented last week that is mainly aimed at shaping the internal European Union debate in view of the upcoming European Council later this week, and in the months to come. The Joint Communication includes several pieces of homework for ourselves and some indications for concrete actions in different fields.
We discussed today with my good friend, the Minister [Wang Yi], the fact that we, as pragmatic and good friends in a troubled time for the world, have to be realistic and pragmatic; principled on our principles but pragmatic in the way in which we address our cooperation.
China, in this Joint Communication, is not only defined as a rival on some issues - namely the alternative models of governance; it is no mystery for anyone that China, the European Union and the European countries have a different political system.
It would be quite naive, if not ridiculous, to hide that we have differences in the ways in which we address our governance and our political systems. The Joint Communication also defines the fields where we compete in economic terms, which is, again, something that is only normal to happen in the world of today with a giant of economic relations like China, and a giant of economic relations like Europe.
I would say we mainly define the areas for negotiations where our interests can converge but need to balance themselves and find the way forward, in a way that ensures that we can both benefit from our relationship and identifies many other areas for cooperation.
As I mentioned, China is a comprehensive partnership for us; it is a strategic partner in many different areas for the European Union. We have identified many areas where our objectives and our interests converge.
So it is not a black and white picture. It is a complex picture of a very intense, very deep and very broad relationship that defines the different areas, with different approaches, in a way that is always constructive and is always aiming at, not only reciprocal benefits but we also always try to identify areas where China and the European Union, as global powers, can work together, exercising our responsibility in the world scene. Because in the times of today, we feel a common, shared, respective responsibility to try to advance, uphold or support a common global agenda in many different fields - from peace and security to nuclear non-proliferation, to the international trading system.
When it comes to cybersecurity, we have discussed this during the Dialogue. I am sure we will discuss it even further with the Foreign Ministers over lunch because, as you know, this is a national competence of Member States - they have their own legislation about this. In our legal framework, it is up to EU Member States to decide which companies they want to allow or exclude from their national markets for national security reasons.
What we have discussed is the need to, first of all, ensure that the cyber domain is regulated and international rules can apply and be also applied to cyberspace so that cyberspace is secure and open. We have also discussed something that is always at the core of EU policies - in the cyberspace, in the digital domain and in the real economy - which is the need for having a level playing field for all, be it in Europe, elsewhere in the world, in China. Whenever we mention the level playing field, you can be sure that the European Union will be a strong supporter of this, and we expect consistency on this.
Link to the Q&A: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-169575