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China eyes leap in EU ties through Li’s upcoming visit

Updated: Jun 27,2015 2:07 PM     Xinhua

BEIJING — China on June 26 was upbeat that the upcoming visit by Premier Li Keqiang to the European Union from June 28 to July 2 will mark a new stage in ties with the EU.

During his five-day visit, Li will attend the 17th China-EU leaders’ meeting in Brussels, the first since the change of EU leadership, pay an official visit to France and visit the headquarters of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris. He will also visit Marseille and Toulouze while in France.

“This visit will realize a new leap in China-EU relations and benefit the two peoples,” said Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen.

Vice Foreign Minister Wang Chao told a press briefing that new ways to expand China-EU cooperation, and international and regional issues will be on the agenda of the leaders’ meeting between Li, and President of the European Council Donald Tusk, and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Li will meet President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, address the opening ceremony of a China-EU business summit, and attend a forum on China-EU urbanization partnership.

“[There are] increasing cooperation opportunities for China and the EU, such as connection of each other’s development strategies. Both China’s Belt and Road initiative and the Investment Plan for Europe, the so-called Juncker Plan, are related to infrastructure construction and intercommunication,” said Cui Hongjian, a researcher on European studies from the China Institute of International Studies.

According to the two ministers, China and EU will issue a document to outline their future cooperation priorities, and a statement on climate change, and sign several cooperation deals on regional policies, intellectual property rights, customs and technological innovation.

“The two sides will strengthen negotiation and coordination on trade and investment policies through the leaders’ meeting, to promote their cooperation and give the positive signal that the two sides are willing to push forward growth through reform and innovation,” said Wang Shouwen.

The EU has been China’s largest trading partner for 11 years while China has been the EU’s second largest trading partner for 12 years. Bilateral trade volume exceeded $600 billion in 2014.

According to Wang Chao, China and Belgium will sign cooperation deals on finance, telecommunication, technology and education after the talks between Li and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel. This is also the first meeting between the two heads of government since the new Belgian government took office last October.

“The Premier’s visit to Belgium will further promote trade and investment cooperation, strengthen their policy coordination on major trade issues and promote Belgium to improve its investment environment,” Wang said.

During Li’s stay in France, the two sides will sign several deals covering nuclear energy, aviation, finance, agriculture and health care. The two sides will also issue a joint statement on third-party market cooperation and a joint statement on civil nuclear energy cooperation.

As for the Premier’s stay in the OECD, Wang Chao said Li will deliver a speech on China’s stance on development issues. The two sides are formulating a cooperation vision and cross-year action plan.

“Li’s OECD visit will help the organization better understand emerging economies and developing countries, and inject new political impetus for bilateral cooperation,” Wang Chao said.