Warm applause broke out twice when the meeting between Premier Li Keqiang and EU leaders drew to a close on April 9.
According to a Chinese official who attended the meeting, the crowd burst into prolonged applause after the China-EU Summit Joint Statement was passed. Responding to a proposal by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Premier Li applauded the teams on both sides for their excellent negotiation, which lasted for more than 50 hours, followed by another round of applause.
“China and the EU reached a fruitful joint statement based on mutual respect, equal consultation and in-depth exploration,” Premier Li said while meeting the press. “Just as President Juncker said, our teams worked for more than 50 hours before reaching a consensus, as it is not a declaration in general. The statement is a document that charts the course for the joint effort of both sides in the next phase, with rich content and affluent achievements.”
China will further open up
Before Premier Li’s visit to Brussels, some international media doubted whether there would be a joint statement between the two sides. After its announcement, many reported it as a “breakthrough”.
”The common interests between China and the EU far outweigh the differences. As the shared interests expand, the differences will narrow. This will benefit not only the two sides but also the world,” Premier Li stressed when meeting reporters with EU leaders.
The Premier reiterated the consensus reached at the leaders’ meeting. China and the EU vowed to uphold multilateralism and free trade, respect international law and fundamental norms governing international relations with the United Nations at the core, firmly support the rules-based multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organization at its core, and enhance dialogue and collaboration on WTO reform.
The two sides promised to provide each other broader and more facilitated, nondiscriminatory market access, and decided to achieve in the course of 2019 the decisive progress required for the conclusion of an ambitious China-EU Comprehensive Investment Agreement in 2020.
Both sides hailed the preliminary agreement on the negotiations of China-EU geographical indications agreement, and committed to formally conclude the negotiations by the end of this year.
In addition, China and the EU have reached important consensus on a series of issues, such as scientific and technological innovation cooperation, government procurement, zoning principles of agricultural product trade, and interconnection.
Premier Li said that the joint statement adopted this time will not only bring significant development opportunities to enterprises on both sides, but will further enhance the well-being of the two peoples. The consensus reached at the meeting, including the joint statement, must be fully implemented, he stressed.
The Premier also said he hoped China-EU relations will bring more positive signals under the complicated situation, which is conducive to both the recovery of the world economy and regional stability and world peace.
While answering questions from reporters, Premier Li said that one of the important consensuses in the joint statement is that China and the EU agreed to create a level playing field for enterprises of the two sides by adopting a nondiscriminatory principle to treat each other’s enterprises.
China will continue to open up and further shorten the negative list of foreign investment this July, while optimizing the business environment and providing nondiscriminatory services and convenience for both Chinese and foreign-funded enterprises, he added.
The Premier also welcomed companies from all over the world, including European companies, to seize the opportunity and invest in China.
Joint effort and common victory
“Our negotiations were difficult but ultimately fruitful. We agree on a joint statement setting the direction of our partnership based on respect and reciprocity”, Tusk tweeted shortly after the release of the China-EU Summit Joint Statement.
In their earlier meeting, leaders of the EU expressed that the joint statement is a mutual beneficial and win-win result, showing that China-EU relations have gained new positive progresses. The European side is willing to join hands with China to fulfill the consensus reached at the meeting and achieve more positive results in bilateral relations.
When meeting the press with Premier Li, Tusk said that against the current complex international situation, the statement is the result of joint effort and is a common victory, adding that it is necessary for both the EU and China to maintain international trade volume and jointly safeguard the rule-based international trade system.
Citing a sentence in the joint statement, Tusk said, “The two sides reaffirm their joint commitment to cooperate on WTO reform to ensure its continued relevance and allow it to address global trade challenges.”
The EU and China are glad to continue dialogues and negotiations to achieve this, and that is a big breakthrough, he added.
Ready to cooperate hand in hand
Juncker tweeted after meeting the press: “Through honesty and determination we will face our challenges together. The EU believes in China and we believe in our partnership. Ready to work together and be more ambitious in standing up for our interests and values.”
“In today’s world, our partnership is more important than ever before,” Juncker said at the joint news conference with Premier Li. He said the two sides share the same challenges and should work together to make the world a stronger, safer and more prosperous place.
As partners, China and the EU also can be honest with each other, and this was reflected in the joint statement that is the fruit of over 50 hours of careful negotiations, he said.
Referring to the fact that the EU is China’s biggest trade partner and China is the EU’s second-largest trade partner, he said the EU and China will continue to strengthen cooperation, create a fair business environment, boost bilateral investment and resolve the market access problem.
“The EU holds a clear position that it has faith in China and China-EU relations, so we are ready to cooperate hand in hand,” Juncker said.