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Mr State Councillor [and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China, Mr Wang Yi], it is a pleasure to welcome you and your delegation again here in Brussels today, for our Strategic Dialogue that we hold every year. Last year, it was with your predecessor in Beijing; and today, we had a very productive meeting this morning and we will continue this afternoon.
I would like first and foremost to congratulate you on your reappointment as the Foreign Minister and your elevation to the State Council. It has been a pleasure working with you in these years as a Minister and it will be a pleasure to continue working together in the years to come.
We are clearly living in times of geopolitical turbulence and uncertainties, so the cooperation between China and the European Union becomes even more important, not only for China and Europe, but also for the rest of the world.
The European Union and China are both global players: we have a joint responsibility to work together to preserve, or rather to build, a cooperative rules-based global order in many different fields.
Our Strategic Dialogue is an extremely important element of our bilateral relationship. And during today's meeting, already this morning, we were able to address a wide range of issues that will be also useful in preparing for our upcoming Summit, which we will take place in Beijing next month.
With this aim of a successful, productive Summit in our minds, this morning we discussed the priorities for strengthening the EU-China Strategic Partnership, we reviewed the progress we made in this last year, in particular, in the areas of trade, investment and connectivity.
Our negotiations on a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment are ongoing, and the European Union is committed to achieving an outcome that is balanced and ambitious. And I believe we were extremely positive, both of us on the perspective of continuing this work. We have also confirmed our joint support for the WTO [World Trade Organisation] as the centre of the rules-based multilateral trading system, and commitment to co-operate on reform to help the WTO meet the new challenges that are arising.
We agreed to extend our cooperation under the EU-China Connectivity Platform, setting out next steps on identifying joint projects in this field. We will need to create synergies between the China's Belt and Road Initiative and the European Union own approach on sustainable connectivity between Europe and Asia, and we agreed to explore complementarities and synergies in this field, that is crucial for both China and the European Union.
As regards of our bilateral relations, we expect the Summit to make important progress on issues that are relevant for both of us. The list would be too long, but I would just mention trade – as I did before- but also energy cooperation, climate change action, circular economy, but also ocean governance, visa facilitation, our work on illegal migration, our cooperation on development and humanitarian assistance, our work on peace and security in the system of the United Nations, and I could continue on many others issues from counterterrorism to cybersecurity.
On human rights, we exchanged today in an open and frank manner, as we always do. We are looking forward to the next meeting of our Human Rights Dialogue. This is an integral, important part of our relationship – one on which there might be some elements of divergence but on which we always have the opportunity to exchange in a very respectful and constructive manner.
Aside from our bilateral agenda, we dedicate today – mainly in the afternoon - a large part of our meetings to foreign policy and security issues.
This morning, we have already touched upon two key issues on which cooperation between China and the European Union is essential.
First of all, the full continued implementation of the nuclear deal with Iran, that has been the result of twelve long years of diplomatic work in which China's has been essential and China's role continues to be essential in these weeks, months and years to come, in continuing the full implementation of the agreement. We fully share our commitment to preserve the agreement and to work for its continuation.
We also touched upon the situation on the Korean Peninsula - we will discuss more about that during the rest of the day - where we have seen positive developments with regards to inter-Korean relations and I see clear support both for the inter-Korean reconciliation process as well as the dialogue between the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] and the United States. As I said, we will go more into this discussion during the continuation of our work.
We will discuss our cooperation as well on Afghanistan, on the situation of the Rohingya refugees, but we will also have in-depth discussions on the situation in the Middle East – be it Syria, the Middle East Peace Process, but also our cooperation on Africa.
I will stop here, by thanking you again for your visit and for the good, important cooperation in these years. Thank you.
Q: Are we now on the brink of a trade war with the United States, given the measures that have been taken by US against China and now against the European Union? Is Europe prepared to avoid that by taking a tough stance on unfair trade practices, including by China? Secondly, on Iran. You both mentioned the importance of upholding the JCPOA. To what extent can China and the European Union cooperate to weaken the effect of US sanctions and continue business investment in Iran?
FM: First of all, you know the European Union is not at war with anyone. We do not want to be, for us this is out of question. War does not belong to our DNA or vocabulary. We have had enough of different wars in our history: that is over. The European Union is a peace project, including on trade. We believe in a global, free, fair trade and we will continue to do so. This is why we are multiplying the trade agreements with our partners in the world. This is our clear position on global trade.
Having said that, clearly the European Union has to defend its interests. And this is why, as announced by the President [of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker] yesterday, the European Union will today proceed with a WTO dispute settlement case and impose additional duties on a number of imports from the United States. This does not mean the United States are not our closest partners and friends and allies, they remain such. We work very closely with the United States on most issues, from security to international foreign policy issues. And this will continue to be the case. But, as I said, the European Union has to defend its interests. I can assure you the European Union measures will be reasonable, proportionate and in full compliance with WTO rules and obligations.
And with the State Councillor today we have discussed the key importance that the WTO has, in particular in this moment, and our full commitment to its centrality. So I can express here our full expectation that China will also work in this direction with full energy and determination. Because we have agreed that the WTO is and remains at the centre of the rules-based multilateral trading system which we want to preserve for the benefit of all.
Then, having said that, as you know very well and as the State Councillor also mentioned, we have some issues between us. We have discussed this at length over the last years, namely on overcapacity and, obviously, these will continue to be issues that we will address.
On the Iran deal: Indeed, we are one hundred percent determined to continue cooperation between China and the European Union, but I can add also with Russia as it belongs to the signatory countries, but also with other partners internationally who are committed to preserve the nuclear deal and its full implementation.
And we discussed, in particular, the cooperation we have on two things: one and most importantly, the continued implementation of the nuclear-related commitments under the agreement and China's contribution here is relevant, key, and essential - in particular, the leading role that China has on the Arak project; and, second, our cooperation on the economic aspects of the implementation of the agreement. And here, yes, full coordination between China, the European Union and others in the world to guarantee that Iran can continue benefiting from the economic benefits that came from the agreement and will continue in the weeks to come. So on both, on the implementation of nuclear-related commitments and on the implementation of economic commitments [of the nuclear deal], the coordination is good. And the role of China, let me say it very clearly, has been and continues to be extremely crucial, positive and appreciated not only by the European Union, but also by our other partners.
Link to the opening remarks: https://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I156191
Link to the Q&A: https://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I156193