A train arrives at Chengdu International Railway Port on Dec. 17, 2017 for the first test run of the China-Europe cargo rail heading from Chengdu, southwestern China’s Sichuan province to Milan, Italy. It is the 11th international cargo rail line launched in Chengdu. (Photo by Bai Guibin from People’s Daily Online)
A train arrives at Chengdu International Railway Port on Dec. 17, 2017 for the first test run of the China-Europe cargo rail heading from Chengdu, southwestern China’s Sichuan province to Milan, Italy. It is the 11th international cargo rail line launched in Chengdu. (Photo by Bai Guibin from People’s Daily Online)

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Thursday that he hopes at the end of this year, China-EU relations will be as strong as they have started it, as 2018 marks the 15th anniversary of the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership.

Wang made the remarks at a press conference on China’s foreign policies and foreign relations on the sidelines of the ongoing first session of the 13th National People’s Congress in Beijing.

This year started with French President Emmanuel Macron paying a state visit to China and Sino-French relations in excellent shape, Wang said, adding that then the visit of Prime Minister Theresa May kicked off efforts by China and the UK to upgrade their “Golden Era”.

Global governance has emerged as a new dimension of China-EU cooperation, the two sides have a joint responsibility to safeguard the global free trade system, and negotiation needs to be speeded up to conclude a China-EU investment agreement, Wang said.

He underlined that there are also some disagreements between China and the EU, but both sides have realized the need to put oneself in the other’s shoes and to be more open, tolerant and understanding of each other.

China has always appreciated the importance of Europe, the minister said, stating that it supports European integration and has confidence in Europe’s future.

“Given all the uncertainty around us, China is ready to partner with Europe to provide more stability and make the world a better place,” the minister added.

A highlight of China-EU cooperation is the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China, which has been echoed by multiple state leaders from Europe. A series of harvests have been reaped from initiative construction on the continent.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Germany last July that the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries covers every social aspect.

She pledged that Germany firmly supports the Belt and Road construction and is willing to play a positive role to the end.

Macron, the first European head of state that visited China after the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), made clear that the Belt and Road Initiative is truly important, pledging that France would like to take an active part in the initiative.

Macron added that his country is also willing to work together with China to counter global challenges such as climate change.

The UK shares similar views with China on many global issues and values China’s role in international affairs, May said during her visit to China at the beginning of 2018.

Saying the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by Xi has far-reaching global influence, May expressed her hope that the UK and China cooperate in this regard to boost global and regional economic growth.

The projects constructed under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative have added needed momentum to the economic and social development of the partner countries, Wang said, citing the examples of troubled steel mill in Serbia, the seaport in Greece as well as the nuclear power plant in the UK.

“In Serbia, a Chinese enterprise bought a troubled steel mill and turned it around in less than a year, both saving more than 5,000 local jobs and helping to re-energize the city in which the steel mill is located,” he elaborated.

“In Greece, a Chinese group took over the operation of its largest seaport, ramped up the container volume and put it back in the same league as Europe’s largest ports,” he illustrated, adding that China is also partnering with France to build a nuclear power plant in the UK, a stellar example of high-tech cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative.

“We sincerely ask for ideas from all parties, so that we will together make a success of the Belt and Road Initiative. Our goal is not only to strengthen the physical connectivity of infrastructure, but also to improve the institutional connectivity of policies, rules and standards,” the minister stressed.

The projects involved in the initiative must be high-standard as well as results-oriented, high-quality as well as economically viable, beneficial to the world as well as to China, Wang told the press conference.

By Wang Yuan

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