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CHINA<br />





Dear Excellencies,<br />

Dear Partners,<br />

Dear Readers,<br />





Beiaardlaan 25 I 1850 Grimbergen I Belgium<br />

T +32 2 770 03 06<br />

www.diplomatic-world.com<br />


Barbara Dietrich<br />

barbara.dietrich@diplomatic-world.com<br />


Barbara Dietrich<br />


redaction@diplomatic-world.com<br />

This year we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the EU-<strong>China</strong><br />

Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The relations between<br />

<strong>China</strong> and the EU have gone through ups and downs but both<br />

sides have achieved plenty of practical deliverables in fields as<br />

diverse as economy, culture, science and climate. <strong>China</strong> and<br />

the EU have largely benefited from each other’s development –<br />

which is why calls from some voices in the EU to decouple from<br />

<strong>China</strong> are a bad idea. Each side has become the second-largest<br />

trading partner of the other, benefiting people on both sides and<br />

contributing greatly to economic prosperity.<br />

As in any mature relationship, there are some elements of<br />

mistrust and diverging perceptions, which should not stand in the<br />

way of effective bilateral dialogue. After three years of pandemicrelated<br />

restrictions, it is great to see the resumption of high-level<br />

visits and contacts, both ways. From the EU side, President of<br />

the European Council Charles Michel, President of the European<br />

Commission Ursula von der Leyen and HRVP Josep Borrell have<br />

all visited Beijing in recent months.<br />


redaction@diplomatic-world.com<br />

T +32 2 770 03 06<br />

ISSN 2995-3655<br />

The texts were written in English or Dutch and translated in the other language.<br />

Some expressions can change by the translation. To safeguard the language and<br />

tone of all authors, the author’s initial choice of spelling has been maintained as<br />

much as possible. The editorial staff has done its utmost to identify and mention<br />

sources and beneficiaries of the text and images used.<br />

The publisher has made every effort to secure permission to reproduce the listed<br />

material, illustrations and photographs. We apologize for any inadvert errors or<br />

omissions. Parties who nevertheless believe they can claim specific legal rights<br />

are invited to contact the publisher.<br />

Opinions in this magazine belong to the writers and are not necessarily endorsed<br />

by <strong>Diplomatic</strong> <strong>World</strong> or the Mission of <strong>China</strong> to the EU, which is the partner of this<br />

special edition, except those provided by the latter.<br />

All rights reserved. No parts of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a<br />

retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical<br />

photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of<br />

the artist and publisher. ©2023 <strong>Diplomatic</strong> <strong>World</strong> <strong>Magazine</strong>.<br />

<strong>China</strong>-EU cooperation is essential to tackle today’s greatest<br />

challenges, including the climate crisis; ensuring food security;<br />

pursuing green and digital transitions and achieving the<br />

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Both sides have a<br />

shared interest in the maintenance of international peace,<br />

stability and security, especially in the geopolitically complex<br />

times we live in. An unstable world, therefore, calls for stronger<br />

<strong>China</strong>-EU cooperation.<br />

This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road<br />

Initiative (BRI), a new paradigm of international cooperation,<br />

which has changed the landscape of infrastructure financing.<br />

In this regard, <strong>China</strong> and the EU should intensify efforts to seek<br />

greater synergies between the BRI and the EU’s Global Gateway.<br />

In this Special Edition of <strong>Diplomatic</strong> <strong>World</strong> magazine, we compile<br />

the views of leading voices from diplomacy, business, academia,<br />

culture, tourism and other fields; highlighting success stories<br />

and concrete deliverables of EU-<strong>China</strong> cooperation. One thing<br />

is clear: a lot has been achieved; and looking into the future, if<br />

pragmatic cooperation prevails, a lot is still to be achieved.<br />

I wish you an inspiring reading,<br />

Barbara Dietrich<br />

CEO<br />

<strong>Diplomatic</strong> <strong>World</strong><br />


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4 5

H.E. FU CONG<br />






Working Together for a Bright Future of <strong>China</strong>-EU Relations<br />

In Celebration of the 20th Anniversary<br />

of the <strong>China</strong>-EU Comprehensive Strategic Partnership<br />

In 2003, <strong>China</strong> and the EU established a comprehensive strategic<br />

work supporting all-dimensional, multi-tiered, and wide-ranging<br />

2022, Chinese investors have set up over 2,800 enterprises in the<br />

up from about 3 million in 2003. More than 600 flights were<br />

partnership, a milestone event that opened a new chapter in the<br />

dialogues and cooperation has been put in place, consisting<br />

EU member states, creating more than 270,000 jobs for the local<br />

carried out every week. Over 180,000 Chinese students were<br />

history of <strong>China</strong>-EU relations. The Mission of <strong>China</strong> to the EU and<br />

of the <strong>China</strong>-EU Summit at the top level, and five high-level<br />

population.<br />

studying in the EU member states, while the number of Euro-<br />

<strong>Diplomatic</strong> <strong>World</strong> are jointly publishing this special edition to take<br />

dialogues as the pillars in the fields of strategy, economy and<br />

pean students in <strong>China</strong> reached over 50,000. With the lifting of<br />

stock of the 20-year journey and look for inspirations for the fu-<br />

trade, people-to-people exchange, environment and climate, and<br />

Connectivity has emerged as a new highlight in <strong>China</strong>-EU coop-<br />

pandemic-related travel restrictions, people-to-people contacts<br />

ture path of this important partnership. On behalf of the Mission<br />

digital, based on more than 70 cooperation mechanisms. Fruitful<br />

eration. The two sides have made efforts to seek greater synergy<br />

are recovering rapidly. I believe it will return to and even exceed<br />

of <strong>China</strong> to the EU, I wish to take this opportunity to express our<br />

outcomes have been achieved through these dialogues. Collab-<br />

between the Belt and Road Initiative and the initiatives of the EU.<br />

the pre-pandemic level in a very short time.<br />

sincere appreciation to people from all walks of life who have<br />

oration in building a <strong>China</strong>-EU partnership for peace, growth,<br />

We have established the EU-<strong>China</strong> Connectivity Platform and the<br />

supported and promoted the development of <strong>China</strong>-EU ties in<br />

reform and civilization has also further enhanced the global<br />

<strong>China</strong>-EU Joint Investment Fund, contributing to effective tripar-<br />

Over the two decades, <strong>China</strong> and the EU have risen up to global<br />

the past two decades and to friends who have contributed to this<br />

significance of our relations.<br />

tite cooperation among enterprises of both sides. The <strong>China</strong>-<br />

challenges side by side. We have maintained close communica-<br />

special edition.<br />

Europe Railway Express has gotten off the ground. Dubbed the<br />

tion and collaboration on major regional and international issues,<br />

Over the two decades, bilateral economic and trade ties have<br />

“steel camel fleet” in Eurasia, it has completed over 78,000 trips<br />

including the Iran nuclear deal, playing a positive role in maintain-<br />

Over the two decades, thanks to our joint efforts, <strong>China</strong>-EU<br />

grown much closer. Our bilateral trade volume has expanded<br />

and accounted for 8 percent of all goods transported between<br />

ing global peace and stability.<br />

relations have grown extensively and profoundly into one of the<br />

nine times from USD 86.8 billion in 2002 to USD 847.3 billion in<br />

<strong>China</strong> and Europe in 2022.<br />

most critical, constructive and influential partnerships, benefiting<br />

2022.<br />

We have made the colour of green as a defining feature of<br />

not only our own development but also the peace, prosperity and<br />

Over the two decades, people-to-people exchanges have pros-<br />

<strong>China</strong>-EU relations. We have issued three joint statements on cli-<br />

stability of Eurasia and even the world as a whole.<br />

We have become each other’s second-largest trading partner,<br />

pered. A number of high-level and large-scale cultural activities<br />

mate change, established a partnership for climate change and a<br />

with nearly USD 100 million of goods traded every hour. The<br />

have been launched, including the Europalia <strong>China</strong> art festival,<br />

green partnership, co-launched the Ministerial on Climate Action,<br />

Over the two decades, bilateral exchanges and dialogues have<br />

stock of two-way FDI has increased seven-fold from over USD<br />

<strong>China</strong>-EU Year of Intercultural Dialogue, <strong>China</strong>-EU Tourism Year,<br />

and played a crucial role in the conclusion of such historic agree-<br />

flourished. Frequent high-level contacts between the two sides<br />

33 billion to over USD 230 billion. In particular, <strong>China</strong> has seen a<br />

and <strong>China</strong>-EU Youth Exchange Year. People made nearly 8<br />

ments as the Paris Agreement and the Kunming-Montreal Global<br />

have resulted in enhanced political and strategic trust. A frame-<br />

rapid increase in investment flowing to the EU. As of the end of<br />

million trips between <strong>China</strong> and the EU in pre-pandemic 2019,<br />

Biodiversity Framework. Along with other parties concerned,<br />

6 7

our mutual recognition as comprehensive strategic partners, and<br />

not allow differences to define or dominate our relations.<br />

We should enhance dialogues at all levels. Since the end of the<br />

last year, <strong>China</strong>-EU interactions have made a full recovery with<br />

promising momentum. President Xi Jinping has held meetings<br />

with President Charles Michel of the European Council and<br />

President Ursula von der Leyen of the European Commission,<br />

as well as leaders from several European countries, including<br />

Germany, France, Spain, Hungary, the Netherlands, Italy and<br />

Greece. Seven EU Commissioners have visited <strong>China</strong> so far this<br />

year. The upcoming <strong>China</strong>-EU Summit will provide strong political<br />

guidance for the development of our relations. It is essential<br />

to continue leveraging various communication mechanisms,<br />

intensify dialogues, deepen mutual trust, and create a favourable<br />

atmosphere for the development of <strong>China</strong>-EU relations.<br />

We should uphold openness and inclusiveness to drive win-win<br />

cooperation. <strong>China</strong> and the EU are steadfast supporters and<br />

beneficiaries of economic globalization. We must not simply<br />

equate mutual interdependence with insecurity, and we should<br />

refrain from generalizing the concept of security or politicizing<br />

<strong>China</strong>-EU economic cooperation. <strong>China</strong>’s development presents<br />

opportunities, rather than risks, for Europe. Be it in the present<br />

or the future, <strong>China</strong> remains and will remain a trustworthy friend<br />

and partner for Europe. Together, we should nurture new growth<br />

drivers in digital economy, green development and environment<br />

protection, new energies, and artificial intelligence. We need to<br />

make joint efforts to keep industrial and supply chains secure,<br />

stable, and reliable. We hope that the EU side will adhere to the<br />

principles of market economy and fair competition, and provide<br />

a fair and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese<br />

investors.<br />

We should embrace the vision of a global community of shared<br />

future and tackle global challenges hand-in-hand. Currently,<br />

the international situation is marked by a complex interplay of<br />

factors, including, in particular, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,<br />

the Ukraine crisis, and the ensuing crises in refugees, energy<br />

and food safety. We must practice multilateralism, strengthen<br />

our coordination and cooperation, and jointly promote proper<br />

resolutions to regional and international hotspot issues. We<br />

should continue to take the leadership role in addressing global<br />

challenges in terms of climate change and biodiversity. President<br />

Xi Jinping has put forth the Global Security Initiative, the Global<br />

Development Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative. Those<br />

initiatives are open to the world, and the support and participation<br />

of the EU side will be most welcome.<br />

Standing at a new starting point, we are optimistic about the<br />

future of <strong>China</strong>-EU relations. I believe that as long as both sides<br />

maintain a strategic and long-term perspective and follow the<br />

basic principles underlying our relations, and as long as we continue<br />

our efforts to enhance our dialogue and cooperation, while<br />

managing our differences effectively and with mutual respect, we<br />

will be able to usher in a very bright future for <strong>China</strong>-EU relations.<br />

we have conducted joint counter-piracy exercises to effectively<br />

deter piracy. We have also strengthened cooperation on the WTO<br />

reform and worked together against protectionism.<br />

Over the past 20 years, <strong>China</strong> and Europe have worked together<br />

and stood by each other. In 2008, when a major earthquake<br />

struck south-west <strong>China</strong>’s Sichuan Province, many European<br />

countries rushed to provide emergency assistance. Countries<br />

like Italy airlifted state-of-the-art mobile hospitals to the disaster-stricken<br />

area. During the international financial crisis and the<br />

European debt crisis, <strong>China</strong> expanded its investments in Europe,<br />

which assisted relevant European countries in overcoming their<br />

difficulties and supported European integration through concrete<br />

actions.<br />

long-term perspective and regarded the EU as a strategic force<br />

and a diplomatic priority. We believe that <strong>China</strong>-EU relations hold<br />

global strategic significance, and they are not targeted at any<br />

third party, nor should they be dependent on or dictated by any<br />

third party. Likewise, we also hope that the EU and European<br />

countries take <strong>China</strong> more seriously and not develop relations<br />

with other countries at the expense of <strong>China</strong>-EU relations or<br />

<strong>China</strong>’s interests.<br />

In this volatile and challenging world, the global significance of<br />

<strong>China</strong>-EU relations is becoming more pronounced. We must<br />

build upon the experiences of the past 20 years and work together<br />

to upgrade our relations, so as to inject more stability and<br />

positive energy into the world.<br />

When <strong>China</strong> faced the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, the<br />

EU and its member states extended a helping hand and delivered<br />

urgently needed medical supplies to <strong>China</strong>. As the pandemic<br />

evolved into a global crisis, <strong>China</strong> reciprocated by providing a<br />

large quantity of epidemic prevention materials to Europe.<br />

Over the past 48 years since the establishment of bilateral diplomatic<br />

relations, and especially over the last 20 years, <strong>China</strong> has<br />

consistently approached <strong>China</strong>-EU relations from a strategic and<br />

We should correctly understand and consolidate the partnership.<br />

There are no geopolitical conflicts or fundamental conflicts of interest<br />

between <strong>China</strong> and Europe. As a matter of fact, both sides<br />

can benefit from each other’s development. We believe that cooperation<br />

between the two sides far outweighs competition, and<br />

that there are far more things that unite us than divide us. <strong>China</strong><br />

and Europe are, first and foremost, partners. While healthy competition<br />

in the economic domain is natural, we are by no means<br />

rivals, let alone systemic rivals. Therefore, we must not waver in<br />

8 9




“As the biggest developing country and the largest union of developed nations respectively, <strong>China</strong> and the<br />

EU are “two major forces” for safeguarding global peace; as two major economies in the world, <strong>China</strong> and<br />

the EU are “two major markets” for promoting common development; as important birthplaces of eastern<br />

and western cultures, <strong>China</strong> and the EU are “two major civilizations” for pushing for progress of mankind.”<br />

“The two sides should view <strong>China</strong>-EU relations from a strategic perspective, and combine the two powers,<br />

two markets and two civilizations of <strong>China</strong> and the EU to jointly forge four major <strong>China</strong>-EU partnerships for<br />

peace, growth, reform and civilization, so as to inject new impetus into <strong>China</strong>-EU cooperation and to make<br />

a greater contribution to world development and prosperity.”<br />

President Xi Jinping met with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President<br />

José Manuel Barroso on 20 November 2013.<br />

President Xi Jinping held talks with President Herman Van Rompuy of the European Council on 31 March 2014.<br />

“In the era of economic globalization, <strong>China</strong> and the EU have become a community of common destiny<br />

with their interests highly integrated. Win-win cooperation is the key to promoting the <strong>China</strong>-EU relations.<br />

<strong>China</strong> and the EU should respect each other’s choice of development path and social system, strengthen<br />

dialogues and exchanges on reform and other aspects, enhance mutual understanding and trust,<br />

and always adhere to the principles of mutual respect, equality, seeking common ground while reserving<br />

differences, and win-win cooperation in <strong>China</strong>-EU cooperation.”<br />

“Both <strong>China</strong> and Europe are in a crucial stage of development and facing unprecedented<br />

opportunities and challenges. As I just said, we hope to work with our European friends to<br />

build a bridge of friendship and cooperation across the Eurasian continent.<br />

For that, we need to build four bridges for peace, growth, reform and progress of<br />

civilization, so that the <strong>China</strong>-EU comprehensive strategic partnership will take on<br />

even greater global significance.”<br />

President Xi Jinping met with President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso on March 31, 2014.<br />

President Xi Jinping delivered a speech at the College of Europe on 1 April 2014.<br />

10 11

“To enhance <strong>China</strong>-EU strategic mutual trust with great wisdom, the fundamental key lies<br />

in acknowledging the inevitable trend of world multi-polarization and economic globalization, realizing<br />

the common appeals for peace and development of all peoples and adhering to the path of win-win<br />

cooperation. <strong>China</strong> will not change its policy of support to the EU and the European integration and<br />

is pleased to see prosperity and stability in both the EU and the UK.”<br />

President Xi Jinping met with President Donald Tusk of the European Council and President Jean-Claude Juncker<br />

of the European Commission on 12 July 2016.<br />

“As two major forces, two big markets and two great civilizations,<br />

<strong>China</strong> and Europe can make a difference for the world by demonstrating what they stand for,<br />

what they oppose and what they can achieve in cooperation.”<br />

President Xi Jinping met with President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the European Commission<br />

Ursula von der Leyen via video link on 22 June 2020.<br />

“<strong>China</strong> and the EU are both builders of world peace, contributors to global development and defenders<br />

of the international order. <strong>China</strong> stands ready to work with the EU on the basis of mutual respect, fairness,<br />

justice and win-win cooperation, to make still further progress in the <strong>China</strong>-EU comprehensive strategic<br />

partnership and promote bilateral economic and social development and people’s welfare.”<br />

“<strong>China</strong> and the EU, as two major global forces, markets and civilizations,<br />

should demonstrate a sense of responsibility and take active steps to contribute<br />

to global peace and progress. The two sides need to enhance dialogue and mutual trust,<br />

deepen cooperation, properly manage differences, and work together to nurture new<br />

opportunities and open up new prospects.”<br />

President Xi Jinping met with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President<br />

Jean-Claude Juncker on 16 July 2018.<br />

President Xi Jinping held a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel,<br />

French President Emmanuel Macron, President of the European Council Charles Michel and<br />

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen via video conference on December 30, 2020.<br />

12 13

“<strong>China</strong> and the EU should act as two major forces upholding world peace, and offset uncertainties in the<br />

international landscape with the stability of <strong>China</strong>-EU relations. The two sides need to take the lead in defending<br />

the international system with the UN at its core, the international order underpinned<br />

by international law, and the basic norms governing international relations based on the purposes<br />

and principles of the UN Charter, and jointly reject the resurrection of rival-bloc mentality and oppose<br />

attempts at a new Cold War, with a view to maintaining world peace and stability.”<br />

President Xi Jinping met via video link with President Charles Michel of the European Council and<br />

President Ursula von der Leyen of the European Commission on 1 April 2022.<br />

“<strong>China</strong> and the EU should focus on cooperation for mutual benefit,<br />

support economic globalization and trade liberalization, engage in in-depth dialogue<br />

and communication on issues in economic and trade cooperation, and reach mutually<br />

acceptable arrangements through consultation. <strong>China</strong> is an important partner of the EU<br />

in addressing energy, inflation and other challenges and in enhancing competitiveness,<br />

and <strong>China</strong> welcomes the EU to continue to share <strong>China</strong>’s development dividends.”<br />

President Xi Jinping met with President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen on 6 April 2023.<br />

“It is important to strengthen coordination<br />

and cooperation in international affairs.<br />

<strong>China</strong> and the EU, both advocates of upholding<br />

the international system with the United Nations at its core,<br />

can work together to follow true multilateralism,<br />

rise to challenges, and safeguard global peace<br />

and development.”<br />

President Xi Jinping held talks with President of the European Council Charles Michel On 1 December 2022.<br />

14 15

Trade and economic relations are the foundation of the <strong>China</strong>-EU<br />

comprehensive strategic partnership. The bilateral relations and<br />

commercial cooperation ushered into a new era when <strong>China</strong><br />

and the European Community established diplomatic ties in<br />

May 1975. Since then, especially since the establishment of<br />

the <strong>China</strong>-EU comprehensive strategic partnership in 2003,<br />

<strong>China</strong>-EU trade and economic ties have developed smoothly<br />

and achieved fruitful results.<br />




The European Union had been <strong>China</strong>’s biggest trading partner<br />

for 16 consecutive years until 2020 when it was overtaken by<br />

ASEAN. <strong>China</strong> became the EU’s largest trading partner for the<br />

first time in the year of 2020. In recent years, the trade value<br />

between <strong>China</strong> and the EU Member States stood at over<br />

USD 800 billion every year, with transactions per hour of<br />

nearly USD 100 million.<br />


When <strong>China</strong> and the EU established the comprehensive strategic<br />

partnership in 2003, their bilateral trade value was USD 125.22<br />

billion. A decade later, it increased threefold to over USD 500<br />

billion. According to <strong>China</strong>’s General Administration of Customs,<br />

the bilateral trade value reached a historic high of USD 847.3 billion<br />

in 2022, nearly seven times that of 2003. Among EU Member<br />

States, the largest trading partners for <strong>China</strong> are Germany, the<br />

Netherlands, France, and Italy, making up respectively 26.9,<br />

15.4, 9.6, and 9.2 percent of the total bilateral trade value<br />

between <strong>China</strong> and the EU.<br />


In the early days after the establishment of diplomatic ties<br />

between <strong>China</strong> and the EU, two-way investment was nearly<br />

non-existent. In the 1990s, a large number of European businesses<br />

flocked to <strong>China</strong>, and the EU’s investment in <strong>China</strong><br />

started to grow exponentially.<br />

According to the Statistical Bulletin of FDI in <strong>China</strong> 2023, realized<br />

FDI from the EU to <strong>China</strong> was USD 10 billion in 2022, accounting<br />

for 5.3 percent of the national total. In the same year, 1,376<br />

new foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs) were established by the<br />

EU investors, accounting for 3.6 percent of the national total.<br />

According to a report from <strong>China</strong>’s Ministry of Commerce, by<br />

the end of 2021, the EU’s actual cumulative investment in <strong>China</strong><br />

topped USD 123.36 billion.<br />

In 2022, the top 5 sectors with the largest amount of EU FDI in<br />

<strong>China</strong> were manufacturing; scientific research and technology<br />

services; leasing and business services; wholesale and retailing;<br />

information transmission, software, and information technology<br />

services (accounting for 90 percent of the total number of newly<br />

established FIEs, with realized FDI reaching 95.3 percent of the<br />

total)<br />


Specific business cases offer us a unique perspective on the<br />

EU’s investment in <strong>China</strong>. The German chemical producer BASF<br />

commenced construction of its syngas plant at the Verbund site<br />

in 2023 in Zhanjiang, <strong>China</strong>. The Zhanjiang Verbund site will be<br />

BASF’s largest investment, with up to EUR 10 billion upon completion.<br />

As <strong>China</strong> endeavors to build a high-level open economy<br />

and rolls out a series of new opening-up measures, more and<br />

more European businesses are capitalizing on the business<br />

opportunities in <strong>China</strong>.<br />

In November 2019, the Munich-based insurance company Allianz<br />

received regulatory approval to commence the operation of<br />

<strong>China</strong>’s first fully foreign-owned insurance holding company. In<br />

April 2023, Airbus reached an agreement with Chinese partners<br />

to expand the A320 Family’s final assembly capacity with a<br />

second line at its Tianjin site. <strong>China</strong> is a major customer of Airbus<br />

products, with Chinese deliveries representing nearly a quarter of<br />

the company’s global commercial aircraft production.<br />

16 17


Since 2008, <strong>China</strong>’s investment in the EU has maintained<br />

relatively fast growth. According to the 2022 Statistical Bulletin<br />

of <strong>China</strong>’s Outward Foreign Direct Investment, <strong>China</strong>’s outward<br />

investment in the EU amounted to USD 6.9 billion in 2022, down<br />

by 12.2 percent, accounting for 4.2 percent of <strong>China</strong>’s annual<br />

outward FDI stock. In 2022, the sectors that received the largest<br />

amount of Chinese FDI in the EU were manufacturing, finance,<br />

wholesale and retailing, and scientific research and technological<br />

services.<br />

The Chinese-invested projects have produced positive results.<br />

For example, Piraeus port in Greece has changed impressively<br />

since the COSCO Shipping Corporation started to manage the<br />

port’s container terminals in 2009. The terminal has been extended<br />

and upgraded with new infrastructure projects. In 2021, Piraeus<br />

Port handled 5.65 million containers annually, ranking first<br />

in the Mediterranean and 25th in the world, up from 93rd at the<br />

time of the M&A. In recent years, the Piraeus Port has become<br />

one of the fastest-developing container ports in the world. The<br />

Chinese investment has generated over 3,000 direct jobs and<br />

thousands of indirect jobs for the Greek economy.<br />

By the end of 2022, <strong>China</strong>’s outbound FDI stock in the EU<br />

reached USD 101.2 billion, accounting for 3.7 percent of <strong>China</strong>’s<br />

outward FDI stock. The countries with more than USD 10 billion<br />

in stock were the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Sweden, and<br />

Germany. Among them, the Netherlands topped the list, reaching<br />

USD 28.3 billion, accounting for 28 percent of the outward FDI<br />

stock in the EU, followed by Luxembourg, with USD 20.05 billion,<br />

accounting for 20.3 percent. Sweden ranked third with<br />

USD 18.67 billion. Chinese investors had set up more than<br />

2,800 FDI enterprises in the EU, covering all 27 Member States<br />

and employing nearly 270,000 local employees.<br />


In March 2011, the first container train set off from <strong>China</strong>’s<br />

Chongqing city to Germany. Since then, the number of trips by<br />

<strong>China</strong>-Europe Railway Express has increased from 17 in 2011<br />

to 16,000 in 2022. The <strong>China</strong>-Europe Railway Express has now<br />

reached 217 cities in 25 European countries, comprising 86<br />

routes passing through the main regions of the Eurasian hinterland<br />

at a speed of 120 km per hour. Its logistics distribution<br />

network covers the entire Eurasian continent.<br />


TO 25TH<br />

During the European debt crisis, Chinese investment continued<br />

to inject impetus into the European economy.<br />

By the end of September 2023, the cumulative volume of the<br />

<strong>China</strong>-Europe Railway Express had exceeded 77,000 trips,<br />

transporting more than 7.31 million TEUs and over 50,000 types<br />

of goods in 53 categories such as automobiles, mechanical<br />

equipment and electronic products, to a total value of more than<br />

USD 340 billion.<br />

Photo: Istock<br />

18 19



The relative interests of the PRC,<br />

the United States, Europe and the rest<br />

of the world are not zero sum.<br />

The West does not have to compete with <strong>China</strong><br />

to guarantee its place in the world<br />

For well over a decade, the United States has been gearing up<br />

alogue has effectively come to a standstill, including on climate.<br />

for a geopolitical confrontation with the People’s Republic of<br />

As relations have deteriorated, there has also been a normalisa-<br />

<strong>China</strong>. The beginnings of this process can be found in the<br />

tion of the unthinkable: the US military and centres of strategic<br />

Obama years, with that administration’s “Pivot to Asia” regional<br />

planning have begun openly preparing for a potential military<br />

strategy, which included: enhanced diplomacy with the ASEAN<br />

confrontation with <strong>China</strong>, in particular with detailed war gaming<br />

countries to orient them towards the United States; efforts to<br />

exercises centering on possible hostilities in the Taiwan Strait.<br />

form a Trans-Pacific Partnership of 12 Pacific Rim economies<br />

excluding the PRC; the beginning of “freedom of navigation”<br />

The conclusion cannot be denied: there exists a bipartisan<br />

operations in the South <strong>China</strong> Sea; and the first attempts to set<br />

consensus, across three successive US administrations and ex-<br />

up the “Quad” - a NATO-like alliance in the Indo-Pacific – initially<br />

tending out into the think tank and strategic advisory community<br />

incorporating Australia, India, Japan and the United States, with<br />

around Washington, that the United States must pursue a long<br />

the PRC positioned as the primary antagonist.<br />

term grand strategy of maintaining its “primacy,” by curtailing<br />

the emergence of the PRC as a world power across multiple do-<br />

These efforts on the part of a Democratic Party presidency<br />

mains, by diplomatic, economic and if necessary, military means.<br />

were largely eclipsed from memory by the burlesque foreign<br />

There is, then, indisputably a New Cold War on <strong>China</strong>, and there<br />

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has driven away all talk of “strate-<br />

attempting to find boilerplate that can square the circle of the<br />

policy style of the Trump administration, which soon initiated a<br />

also exists a real risk that it could heat up fast.<br />

gic autonomy,” and re-established US military and economic<br />

PRC being both a close and cooperative partner and a civiliza-<br />

trade war with the PRC, levying WTO-defying unilateral tariffs<br />

dominance in Europe. These are now being leveraged to wrestle<br />

tional enemy. US pressure on firms and allies to “decouple” from<br />

on billions of dollars of PRC goods, and presiding over a period<br />

But this is an article about EU-<strong>China</strong> relations. Why spend so<br />

Europe away from pursuing its own independent relationship with<br />

the PRC - “friendshoring” supply chains away from the PRC<br />

of dramatically worsening US-PRC relations, already described<br />

much of it on an outline of US grand strategy against the PRC?<br />

the PRC, in line with its own interests and needs, and towards<br />

to perceived allies – has elicited the policy of “de-risking” from<br />

by many during those years as an undeclared “New Cold War.”<br />

Simply because recent EU policy on <strong>China</strong> makes no sense<br />

splitting the world once more into armed camps, with Europe<br />

Ursula von der Leyen – an apparent attempt to have it both ways.<br />

Upon the election of Joe Biden, much commentary anticipated<br />

whatsoever if it is not understood in this context.<br />

subordinated to US interests.<br />

that the Democrats would reverse Trump’s policies once in the<br />

Her recent threat to impose tariffs on Chinese electrical vehicles<br />

White House.<br />

For decades EU-<strong>China</strong> relations have been driven by globalisa-<br />

Many national capitals in Europe – closer to the realities of<br />

– as part of a move towards joining a protectionist “Critical Raw<br />

tion, and for decades governments and EU leaders perceived<br />

actually running a society – discreetly continue to desire mutually<br />

Materials Club” with the United States – have drawn the fire of<br />

Those predictions have turned out to be mistaken. The Biden<br />

that it was in the interests of mutual prosperity to develop strong<br />

beneficial relations with the PRC. But the European Union – far<br />

both the environmental movement – who see this undermining<br />

administration has been, if anything, more hawkish than Trump<br />

economic and diplomatic relations with the PRC. For an EU<br />

from ringing in a new era of European independence – has largely<br />

the European Green Deal – and European industrial interest rep-<br />

in its dealings with the PRC. This was as good as announced<br />

that traditionally avoided great power politics, <strong>China</strong>’s rise was<br />

served to drag the 27 Member States, like it or not, into a junior<br />

resentatives – who fear the consequences of Chinese retaliation.<br />

during the frosty confrontation between Secretary of State<br />

not treated as a threat but as an opportunity for positive sum<br />

role in the United States’ “great power competition” with <strong>China</strong>.<br />

Antony Blinken and Foreign Minister Wang Yi at Anchorage in<br />

interactions. That conventional wisdom persisted long into the<br />

A visceral anti-<strong>China</strong> politics has taken hold in institutions and<br />

March 2021. It has continued through a battery of hostile trade<br />

Trump years, when the erratic nature of the White House began<br />

As a result, a country of 1.4 billion people that is in reality<br />

the media in Brussels. There is a concerted effort – particularly<br />

measures, sanctions and avoidable diplomatic spats, with only<br />

to fray the transatlantic relationship. EU elites sought to sit out<br />

Europe’s largest trading partner since 2020, is named in EU<br />

within the European Parliament – to provoke diplomatic fallout<br />

occasional attempts – such as last year’s Biden-Xi meeting in<br />

the turbulence, while entertaining notions of a new “strategic<br />

“strategy” documents – apparently produced in homage to the<br />

by probing internal conflicts in <strong>China</strong>, whether over cross-Strait<br />

Bali – to mend bridges.<br />

autonomy” from Washington.<br />

American equivalents – as our “strategic rival.” In the fatuous<br />

relations, Tibet, Hong Kong or human rights concerns in Xinjiang.<br />

mythology of the New Cold War, now bellowed in every European<br />

Throughout all of this, the administration has insisted that<br />

Since Biden took office however, the EU’s relations with the PRC<br />

Parliament plenary in Strasbourg, all of the democracies are<br />

The drive towards European militarisation, including the fortifi-<br />

US-<strong>China</strong> cooperation on the climate crisis remains possible,<br />

have been increasingly hijacked by the United States. Once it<br />

arrayed valiantly against all of the authoritarian regimes, except<br />

cation of EU security and defence missions in a belt of countries<br />

even while engaging in economic warfare. But the reality is that<br />

was clear this was no flash in the pan, no whim of an erratic<br />

for the abundant exceptions in either bloc that shall not be<br />

across trans-Saharan Africa, is constantly justified by the need<br />

diplomatic relations have soured so considerably that bilateral di-<br />

president, Europe’s leaders began to fall in line. Along with this,<br />

mentioned. Spokespeople for the Commission are continually<br />

to jostle with the PRC there. The myth of PRC “debt-trap<br />

20 21

diplomacy” is repeatedly deployed to portray PRC overseas<br />

investment as a diabolical Asian plot to steal strategic infrastructure.<br />

EU investment in the majority world is now driven not by a<br />

commitment to development but by the need to compete with<br />

the Belt and Road Initiative, and deny ground to <strong>China</strong>.<br />

for the ages. But how much more incomprehensible is it that EU<br />

leadership is willing to sacrifice the EU’s own fundamental interests<br />

and its relations with <strong>China</strong>, and to gamble with the future<br />

of humanity, solely in the strategic interests of a foreign country<br />

across the Atlantic Ocean?<br />

At home, European officialdom has been gripped by<br />

“whole-of-society” paranoia about the alleged threat of PRC<br />

disinformation and interference, leading to a deeply unhealthy<br />

political culture. Meanwhile, selective neurosis about European<br />

dependence on Chinese – but not American – technology firms<br />

has led to pressure to ban firms like Huawei, ZTE and ByteDance<br />

from European markets.<br />

All of this is doing profound and unnecessary harm to the<br />

European Union’s standing in the world, as well as that of its<br />

Member States and the interests of its citizens. Worse, it is<br />

accelerating the division of the world’s countries into geopolitical<br />

camps, and potentiating the outbreak of another world war, at<br />

the precise time when peaceful relations and close international<br />

cooperation are urgently necessary to bring world civilization<br />

within planetary boundaries.<br />

That US leadership is prioritising the maintenance of that country’s<br />

primacy over the survival of humanity is surely a betrayal<br />

The long-term stability and growth of <strong>China</strong>-EU relations depends<br />

on the EU resolving these contradictions in itself. The<br />

relative interests of the PRC, the United States, Europe and the<br />

rest of the world are not zero sum. The West does not have to<br />

compete with <strong>China</strong> to guarantee its place in the world. Europe<br />

should abandon the folly of “great power competition,” and<br />

clearly and firmly demonstrate that it will not subordinate its<br />

interests to US grand strategy.<br />

Human rights concerns can and should be addressed, but in<br />

the course of regular and mutually respectful relations with the<br />

PRC, and without turning a blind eye to the EU’s own appalling<br />

human rights record. Europe should use its position to defuse<br />

US-<strong>China</strong> tensions, and to encourage development towards a<br />

more multi-polar and cooperative world, necessitated both by<br />

the interconnected nature of the global economy and by the<br />

need for global civilisation to move as one to tackle the causes<br />

– and mitigate the effects – of climate change. That is the real<br />

challenge facing our planet.<br />

Photo: Shutterstock<br />

Photo: Shutterstock<br />

22 23

<strong>Diplomatic</strong> relations between the European Union and the<br />

People’s Republic of <strong>China</strong> were first forged on May 6, 1975.<br />

This marked the beginning of official diplomatic ties between<br />

<strong>China</strong> and the EU’s predecessor, the European Communities.<br />

Back then, the EC comprised of only nine member countries,<br />

with its primary focus on steel, coal, and nuclear power. The<br />

concept of integrating foreign and security policies had yet to<br />

emerge. There was possibly just a solitary Chinese diplomat at<br />

the Embassy in Brussels assigned to oversee and manage these<br />

affairs.<br />

It would take another 15 years, the advent of the Single Act,<br />

two more enlargements – bringing the EC membership to 12<br />

countries- and the evolution of <strong>China</strong>’s opening and modernisation<br />

policy, before an EC representation was finally established<br />

in Beijing in September 1988. The management of these affairs<br />

remained within the confines of the Embassy of the People’s<br />

Republic of <strong>China</strong> to the Kingdom of Belgium.<br />

This was the case until 2005, when Ambassador Guan Chengyuan,<br />

assigned to both the Kingdom of Belgium and the European<br />

Commission, relinquished his bilateral role and was succeeded<br />

by Zhang Qiyue, as Ambassador to Belgium. Ambassador Guan<br />

served exclusively as the Ambassador to the EU until 2008. During<br />

this period, the European Union had come into existence with<br />

the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992, and its membership had grown<br />

to 25 countries.<br />






The time has come to return to the partnership model,<br />

with a resolute focus on addressing critical ecological<br />

challenges on a global scale<br />

Until the early 2000s, <strong>China</strong> expressed limited interest in the<br />

EU, concentrating its efforts on bilateral relations with individual<br />

Member States to secure the resources necessary to fuel its<br />

rapid economic growth. <strong>China</strong>’s entry into the WTO in 2001 is<br />

likely to have catalysed a deeper interest in multilateral relations,<br />

thereby making the EU a more relevant partner. The formation<br />

of the <strong>China</strong>-EU Strategic Partnership in 2003 marked a significant<br />

leap. This partnership has since undergone a fascinating<br />

evolution over the past two decades, with its fair share of highs<br />

and lows, reflecting the complex dynamics between two of the<br />

world’s largest economic and political forces.<br />

As we delve into the journey of <strong>China</strong>-EU relations from 2003 to<br />

the present, it becomes evident that while elements of competition<br />

have been inevitable, a steadfast commitment to cooperation<br />

in addressing global challenges has remained paramount<br />

from the beginning. The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership<br />

allowed a platform for the resolution of disputes as they arose.<br />

Disputes in trade and economic relations, including high-profile<br />

cases concerning steel, solar panels, and technology transfers,<br />

underscore the competitive facets of the relationship as both<br />

sides sought to safeguard their interests.<br />

The <strong>China</strong>-EU partnership has been characterized by high-level<br />

dialogues, cooperation on various global and regional issues,<br />

and deep economic ties. These dialogues have included topics<br />

such as trade, investment, climate change, human rights, and<br />

regional and international security. Economic cooperation has<br />

been integral to this partnership, as <strong>China</strong> and the EU are major<br />

trading partners, striving to promote trade, investment, and<br />

economic collaboration while addressing issues such as market<br />

access and intellectual property rights.<br />

Climate change and sustainability have also been key areas of<br />

cooperation, with both parties working together on issues related<br />

to the Paris Agreement, renewable energy, and sustainable development.<br />

The <strong>China</strong>-EU partnership had extended to collaboration<br />

on global governance, including reforms of international<br />

organizations, peacekeeping, and conflict resolution. Human<br />

rights and the rule of law have been subjects of dialogue too,<br />

with the EU frequently raising concerns about human rights in<br />

<strong>China</strong>, emphasizing adherence to international norms, while the<br />

Chinese side stood by its own perspective. Cultural and people-to-people<br />

exchanges had been actively encouraged through<br />

various programs and initiatives aiming to foster mutual understanding<br />

and cultural cooperation.<br />

This partnership thrived for a decade before encountering<br />

significant challenges around 2013. It began to face hurdles<br />

on commercial issues and increased competition in emerging<br />

technologies. The story of Huawei in Europe serves as a telling<br />

illustration of these disagreements. Between 2009 and 2019, the<br />

Shenzhen-based company went from valued partner to black<br />

sheep.<br />

To understand this shift, we must consider the emergence of<br />

a new generation of European leaders that gradually assumed<br />

prominent roles within the intricate machinery of European politics.<br />

These newcomers differed from their predecessors of the<br />

late 1960s and 1970s. During that era, Europe had undergone<br />

a period of profound self-reflection, searching for a renewed<br />

identity while regarding <strong>China</strong> as an emerging force that could<br />

potentially contribute to a more balanced global order.<br />

The dominant white male figures of the time found themselves in<br />

a state of disarray. Their offspring were immersing themselves in<br />

Marxism and taking a stand against the Vietnam War. Figures like<br />

De Gaulle were advocating for a stronger Europe that would fully<br />

embrace its continental destiny. Henry Kissinger was reshaping<br />

geopolitical thinking, recognising <strong>China</strong> as a potential partner in<br />

the emerging global landscape.<br />

The subsequent generation of leaders faced different circumstances.<br />

Rising unemployment rates in Europe compelled them<br />

to focus on accumulating academic credentials to succeed in<br />

an increasingly competitive job market. This shift in priorities<br />

resulted in a waning interest in <strong>China</strong>, as the US capitalist model<br />

took centre stage in their minds. Many of the new leaders lacked<br />

insight into the depths of Chinese civilization and the necessary<br />

tools to engage with it effectively, with the aim of fostering a<br />

more balanced multilateral world.<br />

This transition led to the side-lining of the older generation, which<br />

had welcomed <strong>China</strong>’s rise with open arms. This shift in leadership<br />

ushered in a new discourse, one marked by competition<br />

and antagonism. The focus gradually shifted towards NATO, a<br />

partnership previously inconceivable to the prior generation.<br />

Another significant factor to this shift in mentality was the rise of<br />

the European Parliament. In the early phases of European Unification,<br />

the Assembly, which later evolved into the EU Parliament,<br />

wielded minimal influence. Its primary function was to offer advice<br />

and expand the reach of the budding Commission (formerly<br />

the High Authority) and the Council, which held the reins of<br />

actual decision-making power. Over the course of the five<br />

treaties that propelled the European Unification process, the<br />

Parliament’s role steadily evolved. Thus evolution culminated in<br />

the Treaty of Lisbon which entered into force in 2010. It elevated<br />

the Parliament to a position of substantial authority within<br />

the legislative process. It also gained significant control over<br />

the operations of the Council and particularly the Commission.<br />

Previously absent from shaping EU foreign policy, the Parliament<br />

now wields considerable influence in this realm. Consequently,<br />

the executive power, more attuned to realpolitik and the interests<br />

of the EU and its Member States, has lost substantial ground.<br />

The European Parliament has been subject to infiltration by<br />

anti-Chinese lobbies for many years. This infiltration has given<br />

rise to a situation where the EU’s policy towards <strong>China</strong> tends to<br />

adopt an antagonistic tone, sometimes more so than the foreign<br />

policies of individual Member States, which must balance their<br />

economic interests with other considerations.<br />


It appears that the European External Action Service (EEAS)<br />

established by the Treaty of Lisbon has played a rather questionable<br />

role in pushing the EU towards closer alignment with the<br />

United States. In the past, policy papers on Common Foreign<br />

Policy were crafted by the Political Committee, where heads of<br />

political departments from Member States’ Foreign Ministries<br />

convened under the rotating Presidency’s chairmanship.<br />

These pivotal policy documents were subsequently validated<br />

by the Council of Foreign Affairs and finalised by the European<br />

Council. However, the composition of these texts has now become<br />

the responsibility of the European External Action Service<br />

(EEAS). It remains challenging to determine whether this shift is<br />

a consequence of changing circumstances or the advent of the<br />

EEAS, but one thing is clear: the tone in dealings with <strong>China</strong> has<br />

markedly transformed. The concept of <strong>China</strong> as a “Systemic<br />

Rival” emerged in the early 2010s and has since been recurrently<br />

referenced in documents from both the EEAS and the Commission,<br />

effectively branding <strong>China</strong> as such. We must contemplate<br />

the ramifications of this semantic shift.<br />

At a time when humanity confronts systemic global challenges<br />

stemming from the potential self-inflicted extinction of our species,<br />

how much sense does it make to keep replacing partnership<br />

with rivalry? While partnership necessitates collaboration<br />

on multiple fronts, differences and challenges should ideally be<br />

addressed through an inclusive parallel process aimed at global<br />

integration. This encompasses disagreements on matters such<br />

as trade practices, human rights, governance, and regional<br />

tensions.<br />

24 25

In a partnership model, both sides engage in regular summits<br />

Merely shifting from decoupling to de-risking is insufficient. In a<br />

underpinned by a robust political dialogue framework to discuss<br />

world where humanity’s survival is at stake, cooperation must<br />

the status of the partnership and pivotal international and bi-<br />

take precedence over rivalry to prevent our extinction. <strong>China</strong> has<br />

lateral issues. These summits provide a platform for leaders to<br />

been steering its economy towards sustainability since the 12th<br />

engage in constructive dialogue.<br />

Five-Year Plan for Economic and Social Development (2012-<br />

2016).<br />

We have been drifting away from this collaborative spirit. The<br />

COVID-19 pandemic has played a regressive role by disrupting<br />

Today, <strong>China</strong>’s commitment to developing an environmentally<br />

communication channels and leading to a three-year period of<br />

sustainable economy is substantial and unwavering. Regrettably,<br />

withdrawal and isolation. The EU realised during this time its<br />

these efforts have often gone unnoticed by the EU, particularly<br />

deep dependency on <strong>China</strong> but regrettably responded with a<br />

its public opinion, which is heavily manipulated by <strong>China</strong> scep-<br />

narrative of decoupling, rather than seizing the opportunity to<br />

tics. The time has come to return to the partnership model, with<br />

devise new models of interdependence and integration. The<br />

a resolute focus on addressing critical ecological challenges on a<br />

responsibility for this decoupling trend lies on both sides.<br />

global scale. We must intensify the dialogue, seek out and apply<br />

solutions globally, multiply the platforms where politicians, ac-<br />

Despite denials, the trend of practising so-called “wolf warrior<br />

ademics, entrepreneurs, farmers and businesspeople can meet<br />

diplomacy” has not been helpful. The European diplomatic<br />

and cooperate.<br />

corps in Beijing faced a challenging period during the COVID<br />

pandemic, grappling with unflattering language from their<br />

A global solution for all of us is inconceivable without <strong>China</strong>, and<br />

Chinese counterparts and limited access to the Chinese admin-<br />

it is urgent that we engage wholeheartedly with <strong>China</strong>, relinquish<br />

istration. Thankfully, this trend appears to be receding, with a<br />

antagonistic rhetoric, and shift the mode of our relationship back<br />

renewed call for engagement from the Chinese side, which the<br />

to cooperation. <strong>China</strong> has the power and the willingness to do<br />

EU should, hopefully, respond to positively and actively.<br />

so, and its pace is nothing short of swift.<br />

Zhejiang university<br />

Photo: Pixabay<br />

High-view night view of Qianjiang New Town, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, <strong>China</strong><br />

Photo: Istock<br />

26 27




Hong Kong has come a long way from a small fishing village to<br />

an entrepôt and to further establish itself as a global financial<br />

centre and <strong>China</strong>’s international city. Today, Hong Kong is an<br />

invaluable connector between East and West, Europe and Asia,<br />

<strong>China</strong> and the world.<br />

The city is also playing a key role in regional collaboration and<br />

supporting national policies such as the development of the<br />

Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA).<br />

The GBA, an emerging driving force for growth, comprises Hong<br />

Kong, Macao and nine neighbouring cities in <strong>China</strong>’s Pearl River<br />

Delta – a huge and growing consumer market with a population<br />

of more than 86 million and an aggregate GDP of EUR 1.8 trillion.<br />


With its unique “one country, two systems” advantages, the<br />

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) enjoys the unwavering<br />

support of its Central Government and unrivalled links<br />

with Mainland <strong>China</strong> while retaining its own tried and trusted<br />

systems.<br />

Hong Kong, for example, maintains its own low and simple tax<br />

system, with salaries tax capped at 15 percent and corporate tax<br />

at 16.5 percent; a freely convertible currency; and separate customs<br />

territory and a free port status. All this supports the city’s<br />

business-friendly environment with free flow of capital, goods,<br />

talents and information; robust intellectual property rights protection;<br />

and English as an official language as well as Chinese.<br />

Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary, Mr Paul Chan (right), with France’s Minister for Foreign Trade, Economic Attractiveness and French Nationals Abroad,<br />

Mr Olivier Becht (left), at the Think Business Think Hong Kong business symposium in Paris on 19 September 2023. Mr Chan told participants that Hong Kong is back,<br />

open, and re-connecting with a world of business.<br />

Hong Kong has the financial resources, business networks and<br />

expert professional services that can help European companies<br />

seeking to tap the vast opportunities in the GBA and other parts<br />

of <strong>China</strong> and the region, including ASEAN countries with which<br />

Hong Kong has strong ties.<br />

formula that gives Hong Kong its status is here to stay for the<br />

long run. That reflects the importance of “one country, two systems”<br />

advantages, not just to Hong Kong but also to the Country<br />

as a whole, including <strong>China</strong>’s economic development strategies<br />

such as the GBA.<br />

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Mr John Lee, speaking at the Europe Day reception in Hong Kong on 9 May 2023, congratulated the European Union Office to Hong Kong and<br />

Macao which is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its establishment.<br />

Hong Kong’s strengths are underpinned by its common law<br />

system, the rule of law and an independent judiciary. In its 2023<br />

Rule of Law Index, the <strong>World</strong> Justice Project ranked Hong Kong<br />

23rd out of 142 countries and jurisdictions, just behind France<br />

and ahead of the United States.<br />

The International Institute for Management Development,<br />

recognised Hong Kong as one of the world’s most competitive<br />

economies, ranking the city 7th out of 64 economies in its <strong>World</strong><br />

Competitive Yearbook 2023. After some challenging years – social<br />

unrest in 2019 followed by the COVID pandemic – some media<br />

reports questioned the future of “one country, two systems”.<br />

Any doubts have since been dispelled by President Xi Jinping<br />

and other high-ranking officials, who repeatedly affirm that the<br />

Speaking at the Think Business Think Hong Kong symposium in<br />

Paris on 19 September 2023, Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary,<br />

Mr Paul Chan, noted that it is in <strong>China</strong>’s interest that Hong Kong<br />

maintains not just its exemplary common law system, but also<br />

continues to thrive as an international trade, shipping and financial<br />

centre, an East-meets-West centre for international cultural<br />

exchange and a critical gateway between Mainland <strong>China</strong> and<br />

the rest of the world.<br />

“That reality is underlined in the National 14th Five-Year Plan,<br />

where Hong Kong has been designated as an international centre<br />

for trade, shipping, finance, aviation and innovation and technology,<br />

as well as regional hub for legal and dispute resolution<br />

services and intellectual property trading,” Mr Chan said.<br />

28 29

Deputy Financial Secretary, Mr Michael Wong (second right) and Vice Mayor of Shenzhen Municipal People’s Government, Mr Huang Min (first right) look at a<br />

development plan for the Lok Ma Chau Loop, after leading the second meeting of the Task Force for Collaboration on the Northern Metropolis Development Strategy<br />

on 11 July 2023. The future San Tin Technopole is an integral part of the Northern Metropolis while the Loop is home to the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and<br />

Technology Park, a centrepiece of cross-boundary I&T collaboration.<br />

The Hong Kong Palace Museum, opened in July 2022 in the West Kowloon Cultural District beside Victoria Harbour, displays exceptional works from Beijing’s Palace<br />

Museum and beyond. It aspires to become a leading institution in the study and appreciation of Chinese art and culture while advancing dialogue among<br />

world civilisations.<br />


mercialisation of R&D outcomes of university research teams.<br />

Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park recently<br />

a government globally, deploying latest technology to promote<br />

It is also combining its competitive advantages with those of the<br />

set up in the area vividly showcase the Northern Metropolis as an<br />

sustainable finance. In June 2023, an offering close to USD 6<br />

Apart from Hong Kong’s traditional strengths such as trading,<br />

GBA: excellent scientific research, trusted intellectual property<br />

important platform for Hong Kong to synergise with the GBA.<br />

billion worth of green bonds, denominated in US dollars, Euro<br />

logistics, legal and financial services, new areas of development<br />

rights protection, and sophisticated financial services in the case<br />

and Renminbi, was made open to global investors to fund green<br />

including innovation and technology, green finance, as well as<br />

of Hong Kong; and strong technological innovation, commercial-<br />

Cross-boundary collaboration is also a feature of the Hetao<br />

projects.<br />

cultural and creative industries, are frontiers where Europe excels<br />

isation and advanced manufacturing capabilities in neighbouring<br />

Shenzhen-Hong Kong Science and Technology Innovation<br />

and Hong Kong is ready to work with its European partners.<br />

Mainland cities.<br />

Co-operation Zone, for which the Development Plan was promul-<br />

Hong Kong is no less active in its pursuit of arts and cultural<br />

gated in August 2023.<br />

development, ranging from film and fashion to performing arts<br />

In its bid to develop into an Asian hub for innovation and tech-<br />

In fact, the Global Innovation Index has ranked Shenzhen,<br />

and major events. The West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD)<br />

nology, Hong Kong is nurturing local talents, attracting non-local<br />

Hong Kong and Guangzhou second globally, as a science and<br />

Capitalising its competitiveness in both I&T and finance, Hong<br />

is one of the world’s largest arts and cultural developments. The<br />

professionals and building up its technology ecosystem among<br />

technology cluster, for four consecutive years.<br />

Kong leads Asia in green finance, issuing EUR 75 billion in green<br />

M+ global museum of visual culture and the magnificent Hong<br />

entrepreneurs, investors, businesses and research institutes.<br />

debt in 2022, or more than one-third of the Asian bond market.<br />

Kong Palace Museum are among the latest venues to open in the<br />

The Northern Metropolis, a 300 square kilometres area bordering<br />

Since 2018, tranches of green bonds were successfully issued<br />

WKCD.<br />

Hong Kong has five universities ranked among the world’s top<br />

Shenzhen, is now being developed into an “International Inno-<br />

under the Government Green Bond Programme, including the<br />

100 and will be increasing support for more youngsters to study<br />

vation and Technology New City”, to propel Hong Kong to new<br />

offering of HK$ 800 million (EUR 97 million) of tokenized green<br />

Hong Kong hosts major art fairs like Art Basel and many interna-<br />

STEAM subjects, as well as increasing funding to promote com-<br />

heights. The future San Tin Technopole and the<br />

bond in February 2023, which was the first of its kind issued by<br />

tional galleries, and is a leading auction market for art.<br />

30 31

Hong Kong’s global art market share overtook London for the<br />

first time in 2020 and reached 19.4 percent in 2021. As a crossroads<br />

between East and West, Hong Kong is an international<br />

centre for cultural exchange, a role that is set to develop further<br />

in the years ahead in light of growing arts and creative industries<br />

in Mainland <strong>China</strong> and Asia. The debut Hong Kong Performing<br />

Arts Expo will be held in Hong Kong in October 2024 as a major<br />

initiative to strengthen the city’s positioning as an East-meets-<br />

West cultural centre.<br />

a stone’s throw from the city centre), and a thriving arts and<br />

cultural scene, which includes the French May Arts Festival, the<br />

biggest festival of its kind in Asia. Also, there are over 50 international<br />

schools that offer a variety of curricula to ensure easy<br />

transition and high-quality education for expat children.<br />

Hong Kong is an international city like no other. An important<br />

two-way bridge connecting the Mainland of <strong>China</strong> and the world,<br />

it is a safe, vibrant and reliable connector for European enterprises<br />

considering venturing into Asia.<br />


Hong Kong treasures its long-standing and strong connections<br />

with the European Union (EU). The EU has always been a very<br />

important trading partner of Hong Kong. Taken as a bloc, the EU<br />

is Hong Kong’s third-largest trading partner in merchandise trade<br />

globally.<br />

Hong Kong is also home to some 1,600 EU companies, forming<br />

the largest non-Chinese business community in Hong Kong. A<br />

Working Holiday Scheme is also established with Austria, France,<br />

Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden<br />

in the EU, providing a popular avenue for exchanges between<br />

young people in Hong Kong and Europe.<br />

There’s no better time than now to visit Hong Kong and explore<br />

these opportunities for yourself.<br />

The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Brussels<br />

(HKETO, Brussels) is the official representation of the<br />

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government<br />

to the EU and 15 countries in Europe. It is also the<br />

“Head Office” of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade<br />

Offices in Europe, supported by the Hong Kong<br />

Economic and Trade Offices in London and Berlin.<br />

Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Brussels<br />

www.hongkong-eu.org<br />

Hong Kong looks forward to closer relations with the EU and a<br />

greater presence of European businesses and talents in Hong<br />

Kong, to expand and grow together in the GBA, Mainland <strong>China</strong><br />

and beyond. Last year Hong Kong rolled out various talent attraction<br />

schemes to make it easier for professionals from all over<br />

the world to live and work in Hong Kong.<br />

Enquiries: General@hongkong-eu.org<br />

Dedicated Team for Attracting Businesses and Talents /<br />

Investment Promotion Unit (Brussels):<br />

biz_talents@hongkong-eu.org<br />

A new “Office for Attracting Strategic Enterprises” was set up to<br />

attract target companies in areas such as life and health science,<br />

AI and big data analytics, fintech, advanced manufacturing, new<br />

materials and new energy technology, by offering special facilitation<br />

measures – covering land grant, financing and tax concessions.<br />

Hong Kong also expanded the Talent List in May 2023 to<br />

a wider range of talents in need, including those from creative<br />

industries and performing arts.<br />

A new “multi-entry visa” arrangement has also been launched to<br />

facilitate cross-boundary travel to the Mainland for foreign workers<br />

in companies registered in Hong Kong.<br />

The immense opportunities brought by the emerging markets in<br />

Mainland <strong>China</strong> and Asia are readily accessible in Hong Kong<br />

for companies and talents from EU and other countries. Beyond<br />

business, Hong Kong’s cosmopolitan lifestyle makes the expat<br />

community feel right at home. It can enjoy the city’s 200-plus<br />

Michelin-recommended restaurants, country parks that cover<br />

about 40 percent of Hong Kong’s landmass (some located just<br />

Hong Kong city night view. Awesome cityscape<br />

Photo: Shutterstock<br />

Traditional chinese sailboat in Victoria harbor. Hong Kong<br />

Photo: Shutterstock<br />

32 33








Wang Huiyao,<br />

Founder and President,<br />

Center for <strong>China</strong> and Globalization<br />

As the global landscape evolves from a bipolar to a multi-polar<br />

own goals for carbon neutrality, the road to a net-zero society is<br />

world, the international community is also undergoing a trans-<br />

still long, particularly in the context of the Russia–Ukraine con-<br />

formation. After over two decades of robust development, the<br />

flict, which has led to soaring energy prices.<br />

global economy is now facing a recession following a pandemic<br />

lasting three years whose nature has not been seen in nearly a<br />

Second, against a backdrop of both huge economic poten-<br />

century. The pandemic has laid bare daunting issues: the gap<br />

tial and security concerns, there is a growing consensus that<br />

between advanced economies and developing countries, rising<br />

countries should pursue digital sovereignty. The EU was the first<br />

populism, the Russia–Ukraine conflict, the climate crisis along<br />

economic entity to act in this area by launching the General Data<br />

with the potential risks of emerging technologies like generative AI.<br />

Protection Regulation (GDPR), which entered into force in 2016.<br />

This was followed in the USA by the California Consumer Privacy<br />

These global challenges make it imperative that <strong>China</strong>, the<br />

Act (CCPA) in 2018 and <strong>China</strong>’s Personal Information Protection<br />

United States and Europe, as the top three economies, form<br />

Law (PIPL) in 2021. However, while these are steps in the right di-<br />

a kind of ‘G3’ mechanism for regular high-level dialogue and<br />

rection, the world also requires more normative agreements and<br />

coordination to lead the recovery of the world economy and the<br />

regulations to manage the thriving and dynamic digital economy.<br />

governance of international affairs. These three major players<br />

member countries, including European countries and the USA,<br />

G3 mechanism – with <strong>China</strong>, the USA and the EU at the core –<br />

possess the ability to put issues on the agenda and discuss<br />

Third, instability in the international community is impeding the<br />

meant that Russia was also essentially fighting the West. In con-<br />

could focus on in terms of regular high-level dialogue.<br />

solutions in areas of common concern and global challenges<br />

effective regulation of global markets. The scarcity of interna-<br />

trast, as a country not involved in the war, <strong>China</strong> has considera-<br />

and to effect change.<br />

This ‘triumvirate of powers’ will most likely be the decisive factor<br />

tional public goods has to a certain extent led to a widening of<br />

the gap between developing and developed countries. <strong>China</strong>,<br />

the USA and the EU recognise this problem and have responded<br />

ble room to mediate.<br />

Recently, a Chinese special envoy visited five countries as well<br />


in how globalisation and new paradigms of global governance are<br />

with their own programmes – the BRI, B3W and Global Gateway<br />

as the EU’s headquarters, following which there was a big push<br />

While bilateral or multilateral investment and trade agreements<br />

developed and implemented. There are several issues the three<br />

– in an attempt to resolve the global infrastructure deficit.<br />

in favour of <strong>China</strong> playing a major role in mediating the conflict<br />

are on the rise, the WTO will remain a central institution for<br />

major players must work together on making joint decisions in<br />

between Russia and Ukraine. Why not hold a Seven-Party Talks<br />

promoting investment and trade facilitation, reducing tariff and<br />

order for the world to progress in a peaceful and productive way.<br />

Yet, the good being done through these programmes could also<br />

summit? Such a summit could include the five permanent mem-<br />

non-tariff barriers, and eliminating differential treatment in inter-<br />

result in a squandering of resources in the absence of efficient<br />

bers of the United Nations Security Council, plus the EU and<br />

national trade. Today, it still plays an irreplaceable role in pro-<br />

First, in terms of impact on the climate, <strong>China</strong>, the EU and the<br />

coordination. Alongside these issues, the Russia– Ukraine con-<br />

Ukraine, which could help to develop a peaceful solution to the<br />

moting trade liberalisation, optimising global resource allocation,<br />

USA account for around 40 percent of global greenhouse gas<br />

flict has loomed large. The Chinese government states that <strong>China</strong><br />

Russia–Ukraine issue.<br />

and expanding the production and flow of commodities. WTO<br />

emissions and consume nearly half the world’s energy. Therefore,<br />

plays a more active role in mediating between the two sides<br />

reforms would boost the international community’s confidence in<br />

they hold the lion’s share of the responsibility to lead the charge<br />

because it is an independent and significant third party. Originally<br />

Considering all the myriad issues involved, we at the Center for<br />

the multilateral trading system and multilateralism itself.<br />

in sustainable development and, although they have set their<br />

a conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the involvement of NATO<br />

<strong>China</strong> and Globalization believe there are seven areas in which a<br />

34 35

In the future, we hope a G3 can take the initiative in WTO reforms<br />

could drive a rebound in US–<strong>China</strong> relations and establish a new<br />

The global demand for investment in infrastructure is clear, but<br />

done to orient firms towards the environment, social responsibili-<br />

to ensure that the WTO once again gives full play to its role in<br />

channel for <strong>China</strong> and the USA to resolve trade disputes.<br />

the lack of funding, along with the issue of matching supply<br />

ty and corporate governance (ESG) by enhancing green innova-<br />

maintaining and mediating international multilateral trade. First,<br />

and demand, are structural issues that have existed for years in<br />

tion and developing ESG-oriented financing and accountability<br />

reforms of the WTO could begin with plurilateral agreements<br />

Following the UK’s formal accession to the CPTPP, if the EU, as<br />

international development financing. Since its launch in 2015,<br />

mechanisms. Governments can also act to promote cross-border<br />

in place of multilateral agreements to improve efficiency and<br />

a unified market, were to join the current high-standard trade<br />

the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has operated<br />

economic cooperation to boost green trade and investment.<br />

implementation. Second, a reformed WTO should fully consid-<br />

agreement, the impact would be even greater. Moreover, a<br />

according to the model and principles of multilateral develop-<br />

er the demands and capabilities of developing countries, and<br />

endeavour to find common interests among disagreeing parties,<br />

which must also practise patience and maintain a win-win mind-<br />

framework economic and trade agreement between <strong>China</strong>, the<br />

EU and the USA within the CPTPP could also provide a template<br />

for WTO reform.<br />

ment banks, adhering to international, high normative standards,<br />

and been recognised by multilateral organisations. In the<br />

right conditions, it would be possible for the AIIB to cooperate<br />


set to avoid a zero-sum outcome. Finally, as we enter an era of<br />

with development banks from the EU and the USA such as the<br />

Finally, as the ‘petroleum’ of the 21st century, data is driving the<br />

digital trade, the WTO should take advantage of the potential to<br />

Lastly, given the booming digital economy in Asia Pacific coun-<br />

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the<br />

world economy, but it also brings many challenges. Cross-bor-<br />

promote e-commerce negotiations, enhance digital transitions in<br />

tries, <strong>China</strong> has also applied to join the Digital Economy Partner-<br />

Inter-American Development Bank to focus more on expanding<br />

der data flows are critical, yet complexities such as national<br />

cross-border goods and services trade, narrow the digital gap,<br />

ship Agreement (DEPA) initiated by New Zealand and Singapore.<br />

the scope and regional distribution of infrastructure investment,<br />

security, geo-politics, and privacy protection have kept countries<br />

strengthen privacy protection and ensure fair competition.<br />

It would be an added bonus if the USA were to join the pact to<br />

thereby providing urgently needed funding for eligible infrastruc-<br />

from agreeing on promoting free data flows and enhancing data<br />

promote regional digital economy in conjunction with <strong>China</strong>.<br />

ture investment projects around the world.<br />

localisation.<br />





A G3 could take the lead to establish a D20 that provides countries<br />

with a platform to reach a consensus on cross-border data<br />

flows in countries with relatively advanced digital economies. In<br />

Although <strong>China</strong> and the EU share extensive common interests<br />

A G3 should also emphasise cooperation with global south<br />

In somewhat more of a bright spot, green issues may offer<br />

addition, establishing a ‘global data organisation’ would lead the<br />

and already have a solid foundation for cooperation, over the<br />

countries to balance the gap between developing and developed<br />

a more promising field to forge consensus and meaningful<br />

way in creating standards for global data security and data use<br />

past 2 years <strong>China</strong>–EU relations have deteriorated rapidly and<br />

countries. <strong>China</strong>, as a member of BRICS, has engaged heavily<br />

reform. Specifically, <strong>China</strong> could work with the EU and the US<br />

since the world has yet to reach a comprehensive multilateral<br />

an impasse has been reached on the Comprehensive Agreement<br />

with developing countries in commerce and trade. The BRICS<br />

to promote the creation of a dedicated UN institution focused<br />

solution to either issue.<br />

on Investment (CAI), which had been hailed as the impetus for a<br />

mechanism is an increasingly influential force in the global finan-<br />

on climate change given that is a unique crisis that affects many<br />

second wave of reform and opening up in <strong>China</strong>. The agreement<br />

cial sector and political security. Sub-Saharan African countries<br />

aspects of global cooperation. This would augment the UN,<br />

It is our firm belief that economic cooperation will render military<br />

contains many conditions and benefits not even previously en-<br />

have long been economically low on global industrial chains,<br />

which is already playing a leading role in addressing climate<br />

coalitions obsolete. The creation of a trilateral exchange mecha-<br />

joyed by the USA and establishes a more open and higher-level<br />

supply chains and value chains, which means they have had less<br />

change through the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) and<br />

nism between <strong>China</strong>, the USA and Europe, founded on econom-<br />

standard for European companies.<br />

of a voice in political matters. An established G3 could unleash<br />

UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).<br />

ic, trade and financial development, would contribute greatly to<br />

Sub-Saharan economic potential, including its rich natural and<br />

normalising and institutionalising exchanges between the most<br />

In an effort to overcome this impasse, <strong>China</strong>’s National People’s<br />

human resources, to close the gaps in regional development.<br />

Green development will also reshape the way we deal with prod-<br />

powerful players in the world today, which would have a global<br />

Congress ratified the International Labour Organisation’s 1930<br />

Similarly, as they continue to modernise, Latin American coun-<br />

ucts across their entire life cycle, from design and production<br />

impact.<br />

Forced Labour Convention and the 1957 Abolition of Forced<br />

tries have created solid economic foundations and achieved<br />

through to use and end-of-life disposal or recycling. Redesigning<br />

Labour Convention, all with a view to revive the <strong>China</strong>–EU BIT.<br />

a high degree of global integration. A G3 should assist Latin<br />

this whole process calls for new business models and forms of<br />

At present, even though dialogue between <strong>China</strong> and the USA is<br />

The resumption of communication would promote negotiation<br />

America in getting out of the middle-income trap, given the<br />

collaboration across industries and regions.<br />

strained, it remains very important. The creation of a G3 would<br />

and the lifting of sanctions, allowing the CAI to go into effect<br />

region’s waxing clout on global affairs, especially in the context<br />

provide an alternative path for resolution when relations between<br />

as soon as possible. This would be a boon to Chinese and<br />

of the climate crisis.<br />

Pressure to reduce carbon emissions and the environmental<br />

the two countries encounter difficulties. While Europe’s values<br />

European enterprises.<br />

footprint of products will drive the ‘greening’ of supply chains<br />

are more oriented to those of the USA, it must also consider<br />




(CPTPP)<br />


At the right time, a G3 could also work to achieve some level<br />

of coordination on global infrastructure development by coordinating<br />

between the Belt and Road Initiative, the EU’s Global<br />

Gateway, and the new Group of Seven Partnership on Global<br />

and encourage multinational enterprises from <strong>China</strong>, the USA<br />

and the EU to adopt green technologies and business models,<br />

creating new prospects for cooperation. For example, the rapid<br />

growth of the EV industry will generate increasing demand for<br />

lithium-ion batteries. <strong>China</strong>’s Contemporary Amperex Technology<br />

Co., Ltd. (CATL) is currently the world’s largest EV battery maker,<br />

accounting for about 30 percent of the global market. CATL<br />

<strong>China</strong>’s importance as an economic partner. <strong>China</strong> needs to take<br />

advantage of Europe’s relatively neutral position on Sino–US<br />

relations to play a more active role in coordinating the Russian<br />

issue. It is within this global context that a trilateral platform<br />

that leverages the strengths of both of the world’s existing and<br />

emerging powers would bring the greatest benefit for the international<br />

community as a whole and maximise the potential for<br />

The intensified economic and technical competition between<br />

Infrastructure and Investment. If investments under these initia-<br />

cooperates closely with other MNCs such as America’s Tesla for<br />

success in resolving a number of common issues that face the<br />

<strong>China</strong> and the USA has led to a bigger push for the Biden<br />

tives are uncoordinated and shaped by geopolitical competition,<br />

new EV production, and German chemical company BASF for<br />

world today.<br />

Administration to rejoin the CPTPP, which may provide an<br />

there is a danger they could lock countries into high-carbon<br />

cathode active materials and battery recycling.<br />

opportunity for both countries to come under the pact’s common<br />

paths for decades to come. Since being launched in 2013, the<br />

This article was originally published in the Bled Strategic Times<br />

umbrella.<br />

BRI has become a vector of globalisation, growth and investment<br />

Industry will play a major role in achieving our environmental<br />

and republished with the author’s kind permission.<br />

in many regions, yet reshaping the BRI into a more multilateral<br />

goals. Enterprises are responsible for a big share of carbon<br />

<strong>China</strong>’s membership could help reduce friction by bringing the<br />

endeavour in the promotion of global governance and develop-<br />

emissions, but it is also their innovation and cooperation that<br />

country closer to progressive global trade norms, while also add-<br />

ment has also become a necessary step in the next phase of its<br />

will help to develop the technologies that will make the green<br />

ing a new platform for dialogue between <strong>China</strong> and the USA that<br />

development.<br />

transition possible. To fully exploit this potential, more can be<br />

36 37





In the 13th century, Marco Polo’s journey to present sacred oil<br />

to Kublai Khan marked the beginning of a lasting connection between<br />

Europe and <strong>China</strong>. Marco Polo’s travels brought elements<br />

of Chinese culture and technology back to Europe, sparking<br />

trade and cultural exchanges. Over the years, these two regions<br />

have seen a mix of collaboration and conflicts.<br />

<strong>Diplomatic</strong> relations between the European Economic Community<br />

and <strong>China</strong> were formally established in May 1975. This year<br />

also marks the 20th anniversary of the EU-<strong>China</strong> comprehensive<br />

strategic partnership. Despite these positive aspects, serious geopolitical<br />

tensions now cloud the EU-<strong>China</strong> relationship. Issues<br />

such as the unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine, the recent<br />

terrorist attacks in Israel, and real threats to energy security have<br />

led to a paradigm shift in international relations. Europe seeks to<br />

become more autonomous and less dependent on other countries,<br />

while <strong>China</strong>’s growing confidence has made its relationship<br />

with the EU more complicated.<br />

Despite these challenges, the EU and <strong>China</strong> have made significant<br />

achievements through high-level dialogues. These dialogues,<br />

which were this year resumed, breathed new life into the<br />

relationship, especially after the lifting of all COVID-19 restrictions<br />

in <strong>China</strong> at the end of 2022. Economic ties between the two have<br />

thrived, with <strong>China</strong> being a significant partner for the EU in both<br />

imports and exports. To strengthen their economic potential, they<br />

have discussed market access, supply chain issues, and global<br />

challenges. People-to-people exchanges play a crucial role in<br />

fostering mutual better understanding, with the EU and <strong>China</strong><br />

High Level People-to-People Dialogue promoting collaboration in<br />

education, culture, sports, tourism, and others.<br />

promote peaceful collaboration, transcending political barriers<br />

and fostering lasting relationships.<br />

The importance of these exchanges cannot be overstated, as<br />

they serve as a powerful reminder to political leaders that the<br />

true essence of international relations lies in strengthening the<br />

bonds between people of these regions.<br />

Piet Steel is a Belgian (Ret.) Ambassador, having held between<br />

1975 and 1997 leading diplomatic assignments in Geneva, Hanoi<br />

and Hong Kong. Mr Steel retired from the foreign service in<br />

1997 and became Director Public Affairs of the Solvay Group<br />

(Belgium), overseeing the chemical and pharmaceutical company’s<br />

global government affairs activities.<br />

In 2005 he has joint Toyota Motor Europe as Vice-President of<br />

External Affairs, responsible for Government relations in Europe<br />

and the EU. The Government of Japan appointed Mr Steel in<br />

2010 Honorary Consul General for the Flanders region.<br />

With his extensive international experience and networks in<br />

Europe and Asia, Mr Steel remains to be a trusted advisor of<br />

Belgian and international companies.<br />

Piet Steel is personally engaged in various social and societal<br />

organisations. He is Honorary Chairman of the Belgium Hong<br />

Kong Society, Co-founder of the Belgium Vietnam Alliance,<br />

President of the Board Special Olympics Belgium, President of<br />

the Europe-Asia Center, Member of the Board of the International<br />

Polar Foundation and Vice President of the Strategic Council of<br />

the Belgian Polar Secretariat.<br />

These exchanges are crucial in the current geopolitical context,<br />

where cooperation is essential to address global challenges, especially<br />

in areas like clean energy, climate change, and technology<br />

such as new areas as digitalization and artificial intelligence.<br />

The Europe-Asia Center, as an international non-profit organization,<br />

plays a pivotal role in facilitating people-to-people exchanges<br />

between Europe and Asia, reminding us the shared culture,<br />

history and interests that unite the two regions beyond political<br />

frictions. The Center’s mission is to strengthen these bonds and<br />

He was appointed “Distinguished Visiting Fellow” of the European<br />

Business School of Regent’s University in London, Honorary<br />

Professor of Xi’an (<strong>China</strong>) University for International Studies,<br />

Member of the International Advisory Council of the American<br />

European Community Association and Advisor to the Brussels<br />

<strong>Diplomatic</strong> Academy. Piet received the Melvin Jones Fellow<br />

Award of the Lions International for dedicated humanitarian<br />

services.<br />

Photo: Istock<br />

38 39





Feng Zhongping, Director,<br />

Institute of European Studies (IES),<br />

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS)<br />

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the comprehensive<br />

tercurrents, the world faces the risk of “regrouping” and “de-<br />

strategic partnership between <strong>China</strong> and the EU.<br />

coupling and chain breaking”. Both <strong>China</strong> and Europe oppose a<br />

return to the Cold War era of bipolar confrontation and support a<br />

Since <strong>China</strong> and the EU announced the establishment of a<br />

multi-polar world.<br />

comprehensive strategic partnership in 2003, the cooperation<br />

between <strong>China</strong> and the EU and its Member States has entered<br />

Second, the world is facing a serious governance deficit, and<br />

a fast track of rapid development. <strong>China</strong> and the EU have<br />

<strong>China</strong>-EU cooperation in addressing global challenges such as<br />

established an annual leaders’ meeting mechanism, which has<br />

climate crisis, nuclear proliferation and Artificial Intelligence (AI)<br />

continued until now. For 15 years from 2004 to 2019, the EU has<br />

will have a significant impact on global governance. Without<br />

been <strong>China</strong>’s largest trading partner, while <strong>China</strong> is the second<br />

Sino-European cooperation, global challenges cannot be effec-<br />

largest trading partner of the EU. In 2003, the then President<br />

tively addressed and resolved.<br />

of the European Commission and former Italian Prime Minister<br />

Romano Prodi commented on <strong>China</strong> European relations. He said<br />

But the relationship now faces many challenges. The EU’s per-<br />

that the establishment of a comprehensive strategic partnership<br />

ception of <strong>China</strong> has changed, with more emphasis on ideologi-<br />

between <strong>China</strong> and Europe was surely a formal engagement, if<br />

cal factors and more emphasis on competition between the two<br />

not a marriage.<br />

sides. The COVID-19 pandemic has severely limited exchanges<br />

during which period the diplomatic concepts and policies of the<br />

Trade and Technology Council (TTC). These two mechanisms<br />

and communication between <strong>China</strong> and European countries,<br />

US and EU were very different. European countries began to re-<br />

have made it easier for the EU and the US to coordinate their<br />

Twenty years on, the world has changed a lot. <strong>China</strong>-EU relations<br />

widening the trust deficit between the two sides. At present,<br />

alize that they cannot completely rely on the US and need to take<br />

<strong>China</strong> policies at the institutional level.<br />

have entered a new era. The overall feature of this new period<br />

although EU countries oppose economic decoupling from <strong>China</strong>,<br />

their future into their own hands. Countries such as France have<br />

is that <strong>China</strong>-EU relations are not only more important but also<br />

some Member States have proposed to “de-risk”.<br />

pushed for greater EU strategic autonomy. In this context, Euro-<br />

After the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the EU has<br />

more complex than ever. As the world’s two large economies,<br />

pean countries have been reluctant to take sides between <strong>China</strong><br />

once again realized that NATO and the US are important to the<br />

the importance of <strong>China</strong>-EU relations to <strong>China</strong> and the EU itself<br />

Since President Joe Biden took office, the United States and<br />

and the US. The EU does not want to side with the US despite<br />

bloc in terms of security and defence. The international coop-<br />

is self-evident. In 2022, <strong>China</strong>-EU trade in goods reached USD<br />

Europe have increased coordination on <strong>China</strong> policy; The<br />

the intensifying competition between Beijing and Washington.<br />

eration between Brussels and Washington has been further<br />

847.3 billion, making <strong>China</strong> and the EU each other’s second larg-<br />

Russia-Ukraine conflict that erupted in 2022 drew Europe and<br />

The US is a traditional military ally of Europe. <strong>China</strong>, as the<br />

strengthened. Although the Russia-Ukraine conflict has en-<br />

est trading partners. Germany is the largest economy in the EU<br />

the United States closer, while driving <strong>China</strong> and Europe further<br />

world’s second largest economy, is an important economic part-<br />

ergized NATO to a certain extent, the interests of the EU and<br />

and <strong>China</strong>’s most important trade and investment partner among<br />

apart. The truth is, however, that the interests of the Europe-<br />

ner and market for European countries. European countries find<br />

the US are not totally the same. The EU should adhere to its<br />

the 27 EU countries. Since 2016, <strong>China</strong> has surpassed the US to<br />

an countries were not the same as those of the US. Following<br />

it difficult to choose between <strong>China</strong> and the US.<br />

independent policy toward <strong>China</strong>. Cooperation between the two<br />

become Germany’s largest trade partner in goods.<br />

the end of the Cold War, there was a gradual loosening of the<br />

sides far outweighs competition and differences, be it post-pan-<br />

alliance between European countries and the US. Former US<br />

After Joe Biden became US President, the foreign policy of the<br />

demic economic recovery, joint response to the climate crisis or<br />

The importance of the relationship between <strong>China</strong> and Europe,<br />

president Barack Obama proposed the US “Pivot to Asia” and<br />

US has undergone major changes, and Washington has attached<br />

green and digital transformation.<br />

however, is not only reflected in the economy and trade, but also<br />

launched a “Rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific”, which marked the<br />

great importance to strengthening relations with its traditional<br />

at the strategic level. First, <strong>China</strong> and Europe are decisive forces<br />

beginning of a difference in the focus of the global strategies<br />

European allies. But an important consideration of the Biden ad-<br />

The EU, in its five-year-plan unveiled in 2020 (The von der Leyen<br />

affecting the future world pattern and have a major impact on the<br />

of the two sides of the Atlantic. The strategic focus of the US<br />

ministration’s approach is to unite Europe to respond to <strong>China</strong>’s<br />

Commission’s priorities for 2019-2024), has prioritized a green<br />

future trend of the world system and the international pattern.<br />

started to shift to the Asia-Pacific, while the strategic focus<br />

growing influence. Since 2021, the EU and the US have used<br />

and digital social and economic transition. The bloc has set up<br />

The world is at a crossroads. As major powers’ strategic compe-<br />

of European countries was still Europe. Former US president<br />

two major mechanisms to strengthen policy coordination toward<br />

a EUR 750 billion (USD 755 billion) recovery fund to promote the<br />

tition intensifies and economic globalization encounters coun-<br />

Donald Trump adopted an “America First” strategy for four years,<br />

<strong>China</strong>, namely the high-level dialogue on <strong>China</strong> and the US-EU<br />

green and digital transformation of the EU, aiming not only to<br />

40 41

ing the EU out of economic recession, but, more importantly,<br />

to enhance its international competitiveness. The green and digital<br />

transformation of the EU and <strong>China</strong>’s vigorous efforts in the<br />

construction of ecological civilization provide huge opportunities<br />

for future bilateral cooperation. In September 2020, Chinese<br />

President Xi Jinping pledged at the General Debate of the 75th<br />

Session of the United Nations General Assembly that <strong>China</strong><br />

will strive to peak its carbon emissions by 2030 and attain<br />

carbon neutrality by 2060. The targets have been included in<br />

<strong>China</strong>’s 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25). It is against this background<br />

that the High-Level Environment and Climate Dialogue<br />

between <strong>China</strong> and the EU and a bilateral High-Level Digital<br />

Dialogue were established in September 2020 to build a green<br />

and digital partnership.<br />

We all agree the world has been undergoing dramatic changes.<br />

<strong>China</strong> and Europe should do more and make more contributions<br />

in promoting world peace and development. First, there is a need<br />

for more dialogue, more face-to-face exchanges between <strong>China</strong><br />

and European countries to reduce misunderstandings through<br />

exchanges. <strong>China</strong> has maintained a consistent policy stance<br />

toward Europe, supporting Europe’s drive to pursue strategic<br />

autonomy and play a larger role in the world.<br />

<strong>China</strong> is not a security threat to Europe, and there is no geopolitical<br />

confrontation between the two sides. The stable development<br />

of <strong>China</strong>’s economy is conducive to global prosperity, and it is<br />

an opportunity, not a threat, to European countries. Chinese and<br />

European think tanks need to hold more seminars to expand<br />

exchanges and actively contribute ideas to <strong>China</strong> European<br />

cooperation.<br />

Secondly, as <strong>China</strong> and Europe are each other’s most important<br />

economic partners, and two of the three biggest economies in<br />

the world, <strong>China</strong> and Europe have great economic needs for<br />

each other. Going forward, we need to bear in mind our respective<br />

long-term development and strengthen cooperation on green<br />

transformation. Energy transformation is not only an inevitable<br />

requirement for <strong>China</strong>’s high-quality economic development, but<br />

also a priority for the development of EU countries, close cooperation<br />

in this area is in the fundamental interests of both sides.<br />

Thirdly, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been proposed by<br />

<strong>China</strong> but it belongs to the world. The fundamental thinking of<br />

the idea is to promote common development for all countries<br />

which have been participating the project. <strong>China</strong> is willing to<br />

cooperate with EU’s Global Gateway plan and make joint efforts<br />

with the EU and its member states in promoting development in<br />

Africa, Middle East and other regions.<br />

To conclude, in the future, cooperation and competition will<br />

be intertwined in <strong>China</strong>-EU relations, and the importance and<br />

complexity of their relations will increase simultaneously. Despite<br />

the challenges we are facing, Sino-European relations, especially<br />

in the fields of economy and trade, have shown great resilience.<br />

We need to have more talks and dialogues to enhance mutual<br />

understanding.<br />

The beautiful landscape of Guilin, <strong>China</strong><br />

Photo: Istock<br />

42 43





The emerging multipolar world today<br />

will work better if <strong>China</strong> and the EU address<br />

their differences through dialogue<br />

<strong>China</strong>-EU relations are at a crossroads, and the path forward in<br />

latest proof of its commitment to further reform and opening-up.<br />

the years to come will matter not only to the two sides, but to<br />

Trade and investment aside, people-to-people exchanges be-<br />

global peace, stability and development for at least decades to<br />

tween <strong>China</strong> and EU have also expanded dramatically, with more<br />

come. The 20th anniversary of the establishment of the <strong>China</strong>-EU<br />

Chinese tourists and students choosing EU as their destination.<br />

Comprehensive Strategic Partnership this year is a time to seri-<br />

There is no better way to improve the bilateral relationship than<br />

ously reflect on the relationship.<br />

people-to-people exchange, which contributes to mutual understanding.<br />

Many of the problems existing between <strong>China</strong> and<br />

Ever since <strong>China</strong> and the European Economic Community (EEC),<br />

EU and indeed in the world are a result of lack of understanding<br />

the predecessor of the EU, established diplomatic relations in<br />

especially when misinformation spreads like wildfire in today’s<br />

1975, bilateral relations have developed by leaps and bounds.<br />

world.<br />

<strong>China</strong> and EU became each other’s second largest trading<br />

partners in 2022, with total volume hitting USD 847.3 billion, a<br />

<strong>China</strong> has learned a lot from the EU over the decades in its<br />

growth of 2.4 percent over 2021. Two-way cumulative foreign<br />

modernization drive. The EU also played a pivotal role in helping<br />

direct investment (FDI) had exceeded USD 270 billion, according<br />

launch <strong>China</strong>’s Emission Trading System (ETS) in July 2021, the<br />

to 2022 statistics.<br />

world’s largest in terms of covered emissions, and it is an important<br />

step to help cut carbon emissions.<br />

But calling <strong>China</strong> a systemic rival is not only unnecessary but<br />

The downturn of <strong>China</strong>-EU relations in the past few years has<br />

The fact that the bilateral trade and investment relationship has<br />

totally wrong. <strong>China</strong> has never exported or intended to export<br />

indeed wasted many win-win opportunities that could benefit<br />

continued to grow despite growing challenges shows the vitality<br />

If the past decades tell us anything, it is that the <strong>China</strong>-EU rela-<br />

revolution, ideology or political system. Its long-standing foreign<br />

both sides and the world.<br />

of the relationship. German companies such as BASF, Volkswagen<br />

tions are mutually beneficial and the full potential is yet to<br />

policy principles has been non-interference in other countries’<br />

and Bosch have led to the way to continue their investment in<br />

be tapped.<br />

domestic affairs.<br />

For example, <strong>China</strong> and the EU concluded the negotiations on<br />

<strong>China</strong> despite fear-mongering by some politicians about <strong>China</strong>,<br />

the <strong>China</strong>-EU Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) in<br />

whose market size is now larger than the EU single market.<br />

Unfortunately, the EU’s redefining in March 2019 of <strong>China</strong> as a<br />

<strong>China</strong> has a good track record of maintaining peace and stability<br />

December 2020, after seven years and 35 rounds of hard talks.<br />

cooperation partner, economic competitor and systemic rival,<br />

in the world and is the only major country that has not been<br />

The CAI is expected to further open the Chinese market to<br />

Trade and investment is a form of cooperation that is based on<br />

which happened at a time of growing tensions between <strong>China</strong><br />

involved in any war for more than four decades. And it is the<br />

European investors but unfortunately its ratification was stalled<br />

sound business rationale rather than party politics. <strong>China</strong>-EU<br />

and the United States, has poisoned the well.<br />

largest troop contributor to UN peacekeeping missions and the<br />

due to the tit-for-tat sanctions on other unrelated issues.<br />

trade and investment ties are mutually beneficial and have<br />

second largest budget contributor among the five permanent<br />

helped improve the well-being of the peoples of both sides.<br />

There is nothing wrong in calling <strong>China</strong> a cooperation partner<br />

members of the UN Security Council.<br />

The suspension has dealt a huge blow to the business communi-<br />

and economic competitor. <strong>China</strong> and EU have so many bilateral<br />

ties in both sides as the European Union Chamber of Commerce<br />

The fact that <strong>China</strong> has become the world’s largest trading<br />

and global issues to cooperate on. The fact that the EU regards<br />

It is easy to forget that the huge progress of <strong>China</strong>-EU relation-<br />

in <strong>China</strong> and the <strong>China</strong> Chamber of Commerce to the EU both<br />

nation and the largest trading partner for more than 120 coun-<br />

<strong>China</strong> as an economic competitor shows <strong>China</strong> has indeed<br />

ship has been achieved in the past decades despite the differ-<br />

urged for early ratification.<br />

tries demonstrates <strong>China</strong>’s opening and its close ties with the<br />

created an economic miracle in the past decades. Its GDP, which<br />

ences in their political, cultural social systems and their different<br />

rest of the world. <strong>China</strong>’s joining of the Regional Comprehensive<br />

was smaller than that of Italy’s before the year 2000, has become<br />

views on issues such as democracy and human rights. The fact<br />

Meanwhile, Chinese businesses operating in EU and hoping to<br />

Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade agreement among 15<br />

larger than that of the EU and trails only the US. And it is totally<br />

that <strong>China</strong> held human rights dialogues with the EU and its Mem-<br />

invest in EU have been encountering mounting barriers and dis-<br />

Asia-Pacific nations which took effect on January 1, 2022, and its<br />

healthy that Chinese companies cooperate and compete with EU<br />

ber States shows dialogue is the right way to address differences<br />

criminations as reported by the <strong>China</strong> Chamber of Commerce to<br />

application to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for<br />

companies in the marketplace.<br />

and improve mutual understanding. There is no doubt that there<br />

the EU, including the tightening of investment screening and the<br />

Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in September of 2021 are the<br />

were more differences four decades ago.<br />

abuse of national security as an excuse.<br />

44 45

the EU more. <strong>China</strong> and EU are both supporters and beneficiaries<br />

of the globalization.<br />

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has long<br />

warned against the bifurcation of the world in technology and<br />

supply chains, something that will be a disaster for the whole<br />

world and our future generations.<br />

EU politicians are also wrong to portray its Global Gateway as an<br />

initiative to counter <strong>China</strong>’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which<br />

is building connectivity to promote development since 2013.<br />

<strong>China</strong> and EU should join hands in building infrastructure<br />

especially in the developing world. And if EU believes it can<br />

offer some best practices to <strong>China</strong>, Chinese companies will be<br />

glad to learn. One thing is also clear: <strong>China</strong>’s achievement in<br />

building infrastructure at home and abroad, from roads, bridges<br />

and high-speed railways to subways, ports and airports, in the<br />

past decades is nothing short of a miracle. And these valuable<br />

experiences and capacity could help build connectivity around<br />

the world.<br />

<strong>China</strong> has long supported EU integration and called for EU to<br />

pursue strategic autonomy instead of being misled or dictated by<br />

the US given Washington’s outsized influence across Europe in<br />

all domains, from military and culture, to education and the news<br />

landscape.<br />

The recent European Commission announcement concerning the<br />

launch of an anti-subsidy investigation into Chinese electric vehicles<br />

has shocked the Chinese business community and many<br />

EV industry insiders. <strong>China</strong>’s lead in EV technology and batteries,<br />

some actually in cooperation with European partners, should be<br />

applauded as an achievement to combat climate change and<br />

reach climate neutrality, an achievement that could benefit the<br />

whole world, including the EU.<br />

However, the EU’s pursuit of strategic autonomy, which was<br />

advocated aggressively by French President Emmanuel Macron<br />

and some others, is losing momentum as the Russia-Ukraine<br />

conflict gives the US more leverage over the EU.<br />

As the place which triggered the two previous <strong>World</strong> Wars and<br />

one that suffered most from the last Cold War, Europeans should<br />

do their utmost to prevent another world war – either hot or cold<br />

– from happening. In fact, the EU has a key role to play to help<br />

defuse the tension between <strong>China</strong> and the US.<br />

The EU’s quasi-ban on Huawei 5G under US pressure is another<br />

blow to the bilateral relations since Huawei 5G poses no more<br />

threat than the 5G technologies developed by European companies<br />

Ericsson and Nokia, according to many experts.<br />

The EU’s so-called “de-risking” from <strong>China</strong> is deeply flawed because<br />

the only way to de-risk from a trade partner is to increase<br />

mutual trust and exchanges. As each other’s major trading<br />

partners, <strong>China</strong> and the EU depend on each other thanks to their<br />

deepened cooperation. And that is a good thing because a divided<br />

world means that everyone will be worse off.<br />

Also, it is a total fallacy to argue which depends on the other<br />

more. While some say that the EU has a dependency issue with<br />

<strong>China</strong>, many EU trade experts also say that <strong>China</strong> depends on<br />

The urgent task for the EU should be to help end the Russia-<br />

Ukraine conflict as soon as possible, through ceasefire, dialogue<br />

and diplomacy because there will be no solution on the battlefield.<br />

It should welcome <strong>China</strong>’s position paper on the peaceful<br />

settlement of Ukraine crisis put forward in February and welcome<br />

more countries to broker ceasefire and lasting peace.<br />

There is no doubt that the emerging multipolar world today will<br />

work better and world peace and prosperity will be guaranteed<br />

if <strong>China</strong> and the EU, two major players in the global system,<br />

expand their cooperation and partnership and address their<br />

differences through dialogue.<br />

The author is chief of the EU Bureau of <strong>China</strong> Daily, based in<br />

Brussels. He can be reached at chenweihua@chinadaily.com.cn<br />

46 47



Yang Li, Executive Director<br />

Institute for <strong>China</strong>-Europe Studies<br />

Europe and <strong>China</strong> are located in opposite sides of the Eurasian<br />

scope of this article, but a significant message could be tak-<br />

continent, separated by mountains and rivers, but connected by<br />

en that both the EU and <strong>China</strong> recognize that the ocean is “a<br />

the ocean. Such connection is not only due to the fact that over<br />

common good” and that ocean governance is a shared challenge<br />

80 percent of international trade is seaborne, but also because,<br />

calling for closer international cooperation. Therefore, ocean gov-<br />

as recognized by international law, the problems of the ocean<br />

ernance exactly falls into the category of common interest such<br />

space are closely interrelated and need to be considered as a<br />

as, and associated with, climate and biodiversity crises, in which<br />

whole. The European Union (EU) and <strong>China</strong>, as two of the major<br />

the EU and <strong>China</strong> shall cooperate.<br />

actors in international maritime affairs, share common stakes in<br />

global ocean governance.<br />

Having said that, as the current status of global ocean governance<br />

is “alarming”, the EU-<strong>China</strong> blue partnership is expected<br />

The twenty years of the EU-<strong>China</strong> Comprehensive Strategic Part-<br />

to go deeper and bring more tangible achievements. However,<br />

nership witnessed the initiation, expansion and institutionalization<br />

it seems that a reduced level of trust in the overall relationship<br />

of the communication and cooperation between the two sides on<br />

between the EU and <strong>China</strong> is obstructing the two sides from<br />

ocean affairs at different levels. This development also coincided<br />

deepening and expanding their maritime cooperation.<br />

with the growth of new challenges toward ocean governance as<br />

well as the evolution of relevant international rules.<br />

Furthermore, ocean affairs seem to constitute part of the set of<br />

problems that are eroding mutual trust. EU High Representative<br />

In July 2018 the EU and <strong>China</strong> signed the Declaration on the<br />

for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, comment-<br />

establishment of a Blue Partnership for the Oceans (Blue Part-<br />

ing on the EU-<strong>China</strong> relationship during his latest trip to <strong>China</strong>,<br />

nership Declaration), as an important means to promote better<br />

stressed that it is important to rebuild or restore trust gradually.<br />

ocean governance and policy coordination. This partnership built<br />

In my view, maritime issues are part of the areas where trust can<br />

upon previous EU-<strong>China</strong> bilateral agreements and dialogues and<br />

be rebuilt.<br />

provided a more systematic framework for future joint endeavours.<br />

Since then, EU-<strong>China</strong> dialogues on topics such as law of<br />

For instance, the EU repeatedly expresses concerns about the<br />

The EU does give its Indo-Pacific strategy a distinctive charac-<br />

(EEZ), and continental shelves which are eligible to extend further<br />

the sea and polar affairs, fisheries and maritime security were<br />

situation in the East and South <strong>China</strong> Seas, opposing the use<br />

ter by being less confrontational and more cooperative. In the<br />

under specific circumstances. There are inevitably overlapping<br />

either started or continued through official channels or Track II<br />

of force or coercion, which is interpreted as referring to <strong>China</strong><br />

meantime, the disagreements with <strong>China</strong> are still there and have<br />

claims between or among countries with adjacent or opposite<br />

platforms.<br />

without naming the country specifically. The cause for these con-<br />

distinct sources. As far as the South and East <strong>China</strong> Seas are<br />

coasts, creating disputes and frictions. If territorial disputes over<br />

cerns, as stated by the EU, includes upholding international law<br />

concerned, it is easier for the EU to view them more from a ge-<br />

land features are involved, the problems could become more<br />

The momentum to keep the process going is strong, despite<br />

and keeping the important sea routes free and open. It is implied<br />

opolitical lens, as the bloc sees the oceans among “the world’s<br />

complex.<br />

the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in the last three years.<br />

that <strong>China</strong> is one of the countries “seeking to re-define the core<br />

foremost geopolitical arenas”, as stated in the EU’s Internation-<br />

In September 2023, European Commissioner for Environment,<br />

tenets of the rules-based multilateral order”, through acts con-<br />

al Ocean Governance Agenda (2022). On the other hand, for<br />

The EU is said to have the largest combined EEZ in the world<br />

Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius, among a number<br />

stituting breaches of freedom of navigation and maritime claims<br />

<strong>China</strong>, although there are certain geopolitical concerns, the core<br />

and is less daunted by maritime boundary delimitation disputes<br />

of trips made by senior EU officials, visited <strong>China</strong> and held with<br />

that are contrary to international law. <strong>China</strong> has differing opinions<br />

of the problems relating to these adjacent seas is the territorial<br />

in its surrounding sea basins. <strong>China</strong> also has maritime claims to<br />

his Chinese counterpart a high-level dialogue on ocean govern-<br />

from the above positions.<br />

and maritime disputes with its neighbouring countries, not quite<br />

a large area, but about half of it is under dispute with all its neigh-<br />

ance, the first in-person contact of this kind since the pandemic.<br />

differently from ones in other parts of the world.<br />

bors at sea. According to a 2020 study by Andreas Østhagen<br />

During the visit, the second EU-<strong>China</strong> Blue Partnership Forum, a<br />

Many observers in <strong>China</strong> take such differences to be sympto-<br />

of Fridtjof Nansen Institute (Norway), Europe (including non-EU<br />

mechanism set up by the Blue Partnership Declaration engaging<br />

matic of the broader strategic rivalry between <strong>China</strong> and “the<br />

The global oceans are divided into high seas and international<br />

countries of Europe) has only 18 unsettled maritime boundary<br />

government officials, think tanks and business sectors from both<br />

collective West”, headed by the United States and joined by the<br />

seabed areas, which lie beyond the boundaries of any one<br />

disputes, with 80 percent already settled. Nonetheless, Asia has<br />

sides, was also convened in Shenzhen.<br />

EU. There are also views from European scholars arguing that the<br />

country or defined as the common heritage of mankind; and<br />

40 unsettled maritime boundary disputes, with only 61 percent<br />

EU should define its interest in places such as South <strong>China</strong> Sea<br />

areas under national jurisdiction, including 12 nautical miles<br />

settled.<br />

What has been achieved under the partnership is beyond the<br />

more accurately, so as to dictate more balanced policies.<br />

territorial seas, 200 nautical miles Exclusive Economic Zones<br />

48 49

In addition, compared with European states, the level of integration<br />

among Asian countries is less developed, and nationalism<br />

there appears to be stronger. As a result, territorial disputes and<br />

maritime boundary delimitation issues are more sensitive and are<br />

usually harder to resolve.<br />

coordinated approach toward ocean governance, as embodied<br />

in its Integrated Maritime Policy, which could be more effective<br />

in addressing overall challenges for the oceans like the negative<br />

impact of climate change, marine pollution and the loss of marine<br />

biodiversity.<br />

In this sense, the most outstanding challenge <strong>China</strong> faces on<br />

ocean affairs is how to manage these disputes and preserve its<br />

positions before final settlements are reached. This challenge<br />

is getting more complicated under a relatively unfavourable<br />

environment in its neighbourhood. The EU has its own security<br />

challenges at its doorstep as well, but as far as maritime security<br />

is concerned, its focus is more on non-traditional threats such as<br />

illegal migration, piracy and marine pollution.<br />

With regard to global maritime affairs, although both of them<br />

have a long tradition of ocean utilization, the EU is generally<br />

more developed in modern ocean science and technology. It was<br />

also the European nations who laid down the first set of modern<br />

international rules governing oceans. In contrast, <strong>China</strong> is still an<br />

emerging maritime power.<br />

The above differences give rise to divergent approaches and<br />

interpretations to international legal rules, particularly the 1982<br />

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). For<br />

an example, the EU claims that the 2016 South <strong>China</strong> Sea arbitral<br />

award by an ad hoc tribunal established under the request of<br />

the Philippines is legally binding, whereas <strong>China</strong> holds that the<br />

whole arbitral proceeding, as well as its outcome, constitutes an<br />

abuse of the provisions of the UNCLOS, under which any state<br />

party – including <strong>China</strong> – has been granted the legitimate right,<br />

by means of a prior declaration, not to accept any third party<br />

compulsory procedure concerning sea boundary delimitation<br />

disputes.<br />

The EU is also implementing its sea basin strategies and has set<br />

up, with its Member States and its non-EU neighbours, various<br />

well-developed regimes for coastal states cooperation in different<br />

sea basins.<br />

These are good examples that <strong>China</strong> and its maritime neighbours<br />

could learn from in managing the disputes among them and<br />

adopting a more comprehensive approach to the governance<br />

of their adjacent seas. At the same time, <strong>China</strong> also has some<br />

stories to tell about its practice on addressing challenges both<br />

on ocean governance and the maintenance of a stable regional<br />

order.<br />

In conclusion, by trying to restore trust and promote mutual<br />

learning, the EU-<strong>China</strong> blue partnership will generate more benefits<br />

for international ocean governance and make a greater contribution<br />

to the EU-<strong>China</strong> comprehensive strategic partnership.<br />

However, whatever differences they might have, the idea that<br />

the EU and <strong>China</strong> hold opposing positions regarding the legal<br />

principle of freedom of navigation must be a misconception. In<br />

fact, as a latecomer of modern utilization of global oceans, it is<br />

in <strong>China</strong>’s interest to be a proponent for a free and open international<br />

maritime order.<br />

Therefore, it is quite possible for the EU and <strong>China</strong> to narrow<br />

their disagreements and enhance mutual trust through patient,<br />

candid and in-depth dialogues.<br />

On the other hand, the differences between the EU and <strong>China</strong><br />

on their sea-related situations and experiences can be taken<br />

as complementary in their blue partnership and create greater<br />

potential for the two sides to expand cooperation for the benefit<br />

of global and regional ocean governance.<br />

With its unique experience of integration, the EU adopts a more<br />

Photo: Istock<br />

Photo: Istock<br />

50 51

CHINA’S<br />



The Report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist<br />

Party of <strong>China</strong> (CPC), presented by General Secretary Xi Jinping<br />

on behalf of the 19th CPC Central Committee in October 2022,<br />

lays out <strong>China</strong>’s overall development goals.<br />

According to the Report, “the central task of the Communist<br />

Party of <strong>China</strong> will be to lead the Chinese people of all ethnic<br />

groups in a concerted effort to realize the Second Centenary<br />

Goal of building <strong>China</strong> into a great modern socialist country in all<br />

respects and to advance the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation<br />

on all fronts through a Chinese path to modernization.”<br />

To build <strong>China</strong> into a great modern socialist country in all<br />

respects, <strong>China</strong> has adopted a two-step strategic plan:<br />

• Basically realize socialist modernization from 2020 through<br />

2035;<br />

• Build <strong>China</strong> into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous,<br />

strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious,<br />

and beautiful from 2035 through the middle of this century.<br />

<strong>China</strong>’s overall development objectives for the year 2035:<br />

• Significantly increase economic strength, scientific and<br />

technological capabilities, and composite national strength;<br />

substantially grow the per capita GDP to be on par with that of a<br />

mid-level developed country;<br />

• Join the ranks of the world’s most innovative countries, with<br />

great self-reliance and strength in science and technology;<br />

• Build a modernized economy; form a new pattern of development;<br />

basically achieve new industrialization, informatization,<br />

urbanization, and agricultural modernization;<br />

• Basically modernize the system and capacity for governance;<br />

improve the system for whole-process people’s democracy;<br />

build a law-based country, government, and society;<br />

• Become a leading country in education, science and technology,<br />

talent, culture, sports, and health; significantly enhance<br />

national soft power;<br />

• Ensure that the people are leading better and happier lives;<br />

bring per capita disposable income to new heights; substantially<br />

grow the middle-income group as a share of the total population;<br />

guarantee equitable access to basic public services; ensure<br />

modern standards of living in rural areas; achieve long-term<br />

social stability; make more notable and substantive<br />

progress in promoting the people’s well-rounded development<br />

and prosperity for all;<br />

• Broadly establish eco-friendly ways of work and life; steadily<br />

lower carbon emissions after reaching a peak; fundamentally<br />

improve the environment; largely accomplish the goal of building<br />

a Beautiful <strong>China</strong>;<br />

• Comprehensively strengthen the national security system and<br />

national security capabilities; achieve basic modernization of<br />

national defence and the armed forces.<br />


Chinese modernization is socialist modernization pursued under<br />

the leadership of the Communist Party of <strong>China</strong>. It contains<br />

elements that are common to the modernization processes of all<br />

countries, but it is more characterized by features that are unique<br />

to the Chinese context.<br />

It is the modernization of a huge population. <strong>China</strong> is working to<br />

achieve modernization for more than 1.4 billion people, a number<br />

larger than the combined population of all developed countries<br />

in the world today. This is a task of unparalleled difficulty and<br />

complexity; it inevitably means that its pathways of development<br />

and methods of advancement will be unique.<br />

<strong>China</strong> will, as always, bear its realities in mind as it addresses<br />

issues, makes decisions, and takes action. <strong>China</strong> will stay patient<br />

in advancing the course of history and take steady and incremental<br />

steps to sustain progress.<br />

It is the modernization of common prosperity for all. Achieving<br />

common prosperity is a defining feature of socialism with<br />

Chinese characteristics and involves a long historical process.<br />

The immutable goal of <strong>China</strong>’s modernization drive is to meet<br />

the people’s aspirations for a better life. <strong>China</strong> will endeavour to<br />

maintain and promote social fairness and justice, bring prosperity<br />

to all, and prevent polarization.<br />

It is the modernization of material and cultural-ethical advancement.<br />

Material abundance and cultural-ethical enrichment are<br />

fundamental goals of socialist modernization. While continuing<br />

to consolidate the material foundation for modernization and<br />

improve the material conditions for people’s well-being, <strong>China</strong><br />

will strive to develop an advanced socialist culture, foster strong<br />

ideals and convictions, and carry forward its cultural heritage.<br />

It is the modernization of harmony between humanity and nature.<br />

<strong>China</strong> is committed to sustainable development and to the<br />

principles of prioritizing resource conservation and environmental<br />

protection and letting nature restore itself. <strong>China</strong> will continue<br />

to pursue a model of sound development featuring improved<br />

production, higher living standards, and healthy ecosystems to<br />

ensure the sustainable development of the country.<br />

It is the modernization of peaceful development. In pursuing<br />

modernization, <strong>China</strong> will not tread the old path of war, colonization,<br />

and plunder taken by some countries. That brutal<br />

and blood-stained path of enrichment at the expense of others<br />

caused great suffering for the people of developing countries.<br />

<strong>China</strong> will stand firmly on the right side of history and on the side<br />

of human progress. Dedicated to peace, development, cooperation,<br />

and mutual benefit, <strong>China</strong> will strive to safeguard world<br />

peace and development as it pursues its own development, and<br />

<strong>China</strong> will make greater contributions to world peace and development<br />

through its own development.<br />



Over the past ten years, <strong>China</strong> has secured historic achievements<br />

and seen historic changes.<br />

<strong>China</strong> eradicated absolute poverty once and for all. <strong>China</strong> has<br />

won the largest battle against poverty in human history. A total<br />

of 832 impoverished counties and close to 100 million poor rural<br />

residents have been lifted out of poverty, and among them, more<br />

than 9.6 million poverty-stricken people have been relocated<br />

from inhospitable areas. <strong>China</strong> has, once and for all, resolved the<br />

52 53

problem of absolute poverty, making significant contributions to<br />

the cause of global poverty reduction.<br />

has built the largest education, social security, and healthcare<br />

systems in the world, bringing 1.04 billion people under the<br />


Data from the NEA showed that <strong>China</strong>’s total installed capacity<br />

of power generation reached 2.71 billion kilowatts at the end of<br />

coverage of basic old-age insurance and ensuring basic medical<br />

According to the Report on the Work of the Government this<br />

June 2023, up 10.8 percent year-on-year. Of the total, the in-<br />

<strong>China</strong>’s economy makes notable achievements. <strong>China</strong>’s GDP has<br />

insurance for 95 percent of the population.<br />

year, <strong>China</strong> has witnessed significant improvement in its eco-en-<br />

stalled capacity of hydropower, wind power, photovoltaic power,<br />

grown from 54 trillion yuan to 114 trillion yuan to account for 18.5<br />

vironment in the past five years. The country’s energy consump-<br />

and biomass power stood at 418 million kilowatts, 389 million<br />

percent of the world economy, up 7.2 percentage points. <strong>China</strong><br />

<strong>China</strong> has pursued a more proactive strategy of opening up.<br />

tion per unit of GDP dropped by 8.1 percent, and carbon dioxide<br />

kilowatts, 470 million kilowatts and 43 million kilowatts, respec-<br />

has remained the world’s second-largest economy, and its per<br />

<strong>China</strong> has worked to build a globally oriented network of<br />

emissions fell by 14.1 percent. In cities at and above the prefec-<br />

tively.<br />

capita GDP has risen from 39,800 yuan to 81,000 yuan. It ranks<br />

high-standard free trade areas and accelerated the development<br />

ture level, the average concentration of fine particulate matter<br />

first in the world in terms of grain output, and it has ensured food<br />

and energy security for its more than 1.4 billion people. The number<br />

of permanent urban residents has grown by 11.6 percentage<br />

of pilot free trade zones and the Hainan Free Trade Port. <strong>China</strong><br />

has become a major trading partner for more than 140 countries<br />

and regions. It leads the world in total volume of trade in goods,<br />

(PM 2.5) dropped by 27.5 percent, and the number of days with<br />

heavy air pollution fell by over 50 percent. The proportion of<br />

surface water bodies of good quality increased from 67.9 percent<br />


points to account for 64.7 percent of the population. <strong>China</strong>’s<br />

and it is a major destination for global investment and a leading<br />

to 87.9 percent. <strong>China</strong>’s first five national parks were established,<br />

<strong>China</strong>’s efforts on afforestation have seen remarkable progress,<br />

manufacturing sector is the largest in the world, as are its foreign<br />

country in outbound investment.<br />

and over 9,000 nature reserves spanning all categories and levels<br />

with the nation’s forest coverage rate more than doubling from<br />

exchange reserves. <strong>China</strong> has built the world’s largest networks<br />

were established.<br />

12 percent in the early 1980s to 24.02 percent last year, the<br />

of high-speed railways and expressways and made major<br />

<strong>China</strong> has made historic, transformative, and comprehensive<br />

fastest in the world. According to data released by NASA, about<br />

achievements in building airports, ports, and water conservancy,<br />

energy, information, and other infrastructure.<br />

changes in ecological and environmental protection. <strong>China</strong> has<br />

ensured stronger ecological conservation and environmental protection<br />

across the board, in all regions, and at all times. <strong>China</strong>’s<br />


a quarter of the newly added green areas in the world from 2000<br />

to 2017 came from <strong>China</strong>, and <strong>China</strong>’s contribution ranks first in<br />

the world.<br />

The well-being of Chinese people has been significantly im-<br />

ecological conservation systems have been improved, the critical<br />

<strong>China</strong>’s installed capacity of renewable energy hit 1.32 billion<br />

proved. <strong>China</strong>’s life expectancy has reached 78.2 years, its per<br />

battle against pollution has been advanced, and solid progress<br />

kilowatts by the end of June 2023, exceeding the coal-fired<br />

In the past decade, a total of 188,000 square kilometres of sand<br />

capita disposable annual income has risen from 16,500 yuan<br />

has been made in promoting green, circular, and low-carbon de-<br />

power generating capacity, according to the National Energy<br />

prevention and control tasks, along with 3,590 square kilometres<br />

to 35,100 yuan, and more than 13 million urban jobs have been<br />

velopment. Those efforts have brought about bluer skies, greener<br />

Administration (NEA).<br />

of rocky desertification control tasks have been completed. After<br />

created each year on average over the past 10 years. <strong>China</strong><br />

mountains, and cleaner waters.<br />

over 40 years of unremitting efforts, <strong>China</strong> has made remarkable<br />

54 55

in <strong>China</strong>’s total energy consumption reached 17.5 percent, while<br />

total installed capacity of renewable energy power generation<br />

combined increased to 1.2 billion kilowatts. By July 30,2023, the<br />

cumulative volume of carbon emission allowances (CEA) was<br />

238 million tonnes, and the cumulative turnover CNY 10.9 billion.<br />

Globally, the country has been deeply engaged in South-South<br />

cooperation on climate change, and it has provided support<br />

and assistance within its capacity to other developing countries.<br />

As of September 2023, <strong>China</strong> has signed 48 memorandums of<br />

understanding on climate change with dozens of developing<br />

countries and helped train more than 2,300 officials and technicians<br />

for over 120 developing countries.<br />


• In 2005, <strong>China</strong> and the EU issued the Joint Declaration on<br />

Climate Change and established the bilateral Partnership on<br />

Climate Change.<br />

• In 2006, <strong>China</strong> and the EU launched a working group on<br />

climate change and agreed on the <strong>China</strong>-EU Partnership on<br />

Climate Change Rolling Work Plan.<br />

• In 2010, <strong>China</strong> and the EU issued the Joint Statement on<br />

Coordination and Cooperation on Climate Change and established<br />

a ministerial-level dialogue mechanism on climate<br />

change.<br />

• In 2015, <strong>China</strong> and the EU issued a joint statement on climate<br />

change, committing to significantly step up the EU-<strong>China</strong> Partnership<br />

on Climate Change, building on a decade of successful<br />

cooperation.<br />

• In 2017, <strong>China</strong>, the EU, and Canada convened the first<br />

Ministerial Meeting on Climate Action to advance discussions<br />

on the full implementation of the Paris Agreement and to<br />

demonstrate continued political commitment to global action.<br />

• In 2018, <strong>China</strong> and the EU adopted the Leaders’ Statement on<br />

Climate Change and Clean Energy, in which they confirmed<br />

their commitments under the historic 2015 Paris Agreement<br />

and promised to step up their cooperation to enhance its<br />

implementation.<br />

• In 2020, <strong>China</strong> and the EU agreed to set up a <strong>China</strong>-EU<br />

High-level Environment and Climate Dialogue (HECD).<br />

• In 2023, the fourth HECD was held in Beijing, where both<br />

sides confirmed that green was the distinctive colour of<br />

<strong>China</strong>-EU cooperation and agreed to expand their cooperation<br />

in various fields.<br />

achievements in preventing and controlling desertification and<br />

realized a historic transformation from “sand forcing humans to<br />

retreat” to “trees forcing sand to retreat” in key areas.<br />

<strong>China</strong>’s “three-North” areas – the northwest, north and northeast<br />

regions – are home to deserts, including the Gobi, and prone to<br />

desertification. To tackle desertification problems like sandstorms<br />

and soil erosion, <strong>China</strong> launched the “Three-North Shelterbelt<br />

Forest Program” in 1978, which is also dubbed “<strong>China</strong>’s Green<br />

Great Wall.” Over the past four decades, the program has<br />

increased the forest area by 301,400 square kilometers, according<br />

to 2018 data, and the total area of the project has reached<br />

4.358 million square kilometers, accounting for 45 percent of the<br />

country’s land area based on the data released by the National<br />

Forestry and Grassland Administration of <strong>China</strong>.<br />


By the end of 2022, the number of <strong>China</strong>’s registered new energy<br />

vehicles (NEVs) had reached 13.1 million, a year-on-year growth<br />

of 67.13 percent, according to the Ministry of Public Security.<br />

By July 3, 2023, <strong>China</strong> hit the production milestone of 20 million<br />

NEVs.<br />

In 2022, <strong>China</strong> sold some 6.89 million NEVs, up more than<br />

93 percent year-on-year. In the same year, its NEV production<br />

also soared nearly 97 percent to about 7.06 million units. <strong>China</strong><br />

has been ranking first in the world on the production and sales<br />

volume of NEVs for eight consecutive years.<br />



In 2020, <strong>China</strong> announced the goals of striving to carbon dioxide<br />

peaking before 2030 and striving to achieve carbon neutrality before<br />

2060. Since then, <strong>China</strong> has actively implemented the Paris<br />

Agreement on climate change, updated its Nationally Determined<br />

Contributions (NDCs) goals, and made significant progress in<br />

meeting the targets of carbon dioxide peaking and carbon neutrality.<br />

<strong>China</strong> has put in place a “1+N” policy framework for carbon<br />

dioxide peaking and carbon neutrality, developed a mid-term<br />

and long-term strategy for controlling greenhouse gas emissions,<br />

accelerated the development of a national carbon market, and<br />

formulated and implemented the National Strategy for Climate<br />

Change Adaptation.<br />

In 2022, <strong>China</strong>’s carbon emissions intensity decreased more than<br />

51 percent from its 2005 level, and the share of non-fossil energy<br />

56 57

Photo: Istock<br />

58 59




Xu Chen,<br />

Chairman of the <strong>China</strong> Chamber of Commerce<br />

to the EU (CCCEU)<br />

In commemorating the 20th anniversary of the <strong>China</strong>-EU<br />

Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, I am honoured to contribute<br />

to this edition of <strong>Diplomatic</strong> <strong>World</strong>. Economic ties have con-<br />



sistently played a key role in international relations throughout<br />

CCCEU orchestrates a multitude of networking events, business<br />

diplomatic history, often evolving through business relationships.<br />

forums, and trade missions, serving as catalysts for connections<br />

between Chinese companies and their European counterparts.<br />


These endeavours facilitate the cultivation of relationships with<br />

both Chinese and EU stakeholders. Furthermore, the chamber<br />

conducts comprehensive research and analysis, equipping<br />

Allow me to commence with a brief introduction of the CCCEU.<br />

Chinese enterprises with crucial insights into the European mar-<br />

In August 2018, three prominent Chinese corporations – Bank<br />

ket. By sharing market trends and regulatory information, CCCEU<br />

of <strong>China</strong> (Luxembourg), later rebranded as “Bank of <strong>China</strong><br />

empowers Chinese enterprises with the knowledge required to<br />

(Europe),” <strong>China</strong> Three Gorges (Europe), and COSCO Shipping<br />

make informed decisions when entering the EU market.<br />

To date, the chamber has expressed the position of Chinese<br />

communication, the CCCEU aids in building mutual trust and<br />

(Europe) – came together to establish the entity we now recog-<br />

companies in the EU on various issues, including the EU foreign<br />

understanding between <strong>China</strong> and the EU.<br />

nise as the chamber.<br />

Beyond serving as a hub for Chinese companies in the EU,<br />

subsidies regulations, the EU foreign investment screening<br />

This initiative was conceived as a platform bridging <strong>China</strong> and<br />

the EU, with a dedicated mission to advance the interests of<br />

businesses investing in the EU. The chamber’s remit encom-<br />

CCCEU represents a platform of opportunity for them. Currently,<br />

CCCEU boasts nearly 90 members, collectively representing over<br />

1,000 Chinese companies across the EU, spanning across all the<br />

major EU member states.<br />

mechanism, the 5G security toolbox, Carbon Border Adjustment<br />

Mechanism (CBAM), supply chain due diligence, banking<br />

regulations, and more. At the same time, in order to better serve<br />

Chinese companies in the EU from different industries, the<br />



passes representing the perspectives, recommendations, and<br />

CCCEU has established working groups on the digital economy,<br />

CCCEU is unwavering in its commitment to ensuring fair<br />

concerns of Chinese companies to European institutions and<br />

Since its inception, CCCEU has consistently released annual<br />

green economy, and finance, aiming to consolidate consensus<br />

competition for Chinese companies in the European market.<br />

Member States. All the while, it aspires to elevate the standing of<br />

flagship reports detailing the development of Chinese companies<br />

and generate collective efforts through policy research, strategic<br />

This includes advocating for non-discriminatory policies and<br />

Chinese enterprises within the diverse and multicultural Europe-<br />

in the EU. These reports have attracted significant attention from<br />

discussions, and forum exchanges.<br />

challenging any instances of unfair trade practices. Additionally,<br />

an landscape.<br />

governments, enterprises, think tanks, and media outlets in both<br />

the chamber encourages Chinese enterprises to adhere to EU<br />

<strong>China</strong> and the EU. Notably, on January 27, 2023, Mr. Frédéric<br />

The chamber actively collaborates with policymakers and regu-<br />

regulations and standards, cultivating trust among European<br />

On April 8, 2019, then Chinese Premier Li Keqiang inaugurated<br />

Bernard, Head of Cabinet of President of the European Council<br />

lators in <strong>China</strong> and the EU, aiming to promote policies favouring<br />

consumers and regulators. This dedication to quality and compli-<br />

the chamber, articulating a vision for the CCCEU to serve as<br />

Charles Michel, expressed gratitude to the CCCEU for sending<br />

the interests of Chinese businesses. This includes advocating for<br />

ance enhances the reputation of Chinese products and services<br />

a “golden name card” for Chinese enterprises in the EU. He<br />

the flagship report for the year 2022 to President Michel. This<br />

fair trade practices, the reduction of trade barriers, and the pro-<br />

in the EU market.<br />

envisioned it as a bridge of communication, lending an ear to the<br />

recognition underscores the chamber’s contributions to the ad-<br />

tection of intellectual property rights. With regard to investment<br />

voices of both Chinese and European stakeholders and contributing<br />

to the positive image of Chinese businesses.<br />

In my role as the Chairman of the <strong>China</strong> Chamber of Commerce<br />

to the EU, we take immense pride in being the singular pan-Euro-<br />

vancement of Sino-European economic and trade relations.<br />


facilitation, the chamber provides support to Chinese enterprises<br />

seeking investment opportunities in the EU. This includes training<br />

or guidance through regulatory processes and invaluable assistance<br />

in access to the EU markets, fostering deeper economic<br />

cooperation between the two regions.<br />



In a time when Sino-European economic and trade relations<br />

pean <strong>China</strong> chamber of commerce. Our unwavering commitment<br />

The chamber actively engages in EU legislation, advocating for the<br />

are at a critical juncture, the CCCEU actively promotes coopera-<br />

revolves around advancing the interests of Chinese enterprises<br />

protection of Chinese enterprises’ rights & interests, the optimi-<br />

The chamber also engages in ongoing dialogues with both<br />

tion and dialogue. For instance, since last year, the chamber<br />

within the EU and nurturing robust Sino-EU investments,<br />

sation of Sino-European government-enterprise communication<br />

Chinese and European institutions and organisations to address<br />

has organised approximately 30 events, including the first<br />

business partnerships, and commercial relations.<br />

channels, and the fulfilment of the needs of Chinese enterprises.<br />

trade-related challenges and opportunities. By facilitating open<br />

<strong>China</strong>-Europe Fintech Summit (December, 2022), the Seminar<br />

60 61

“Navigating the New Era: The Evolving Landscape of <strong>China</strong>-EU<br />

Economic and Trade Relations” (May, 2023), and the 2023 CC-<br />

CEU Europe-<strong>China</strong> Business Summit (June, 2023), significantly<br />

contributing to Sino-European economic and trade exchanges.<br />

The chamber serves as a unifying force for Chinese and<br />

European companies, fostering collaboration and partnership.<br />

For instance, on January 13, 2023, CCCEU and its counterpart<br />

in <strong>China</strong>, the EUCCC, jointly organised a high-level “<strong>China</strong>-<br />

Europe Business Leaders Roundtable Dialogue” in Brussels,<br />

Belgium. This marked the first such high-level event since the<br />

establishment of both chambers, representing the strong desire<br />

and aspiration of the Chinese and European business communities<br />

to promote cooperation.<br />

both the EU and <strong>China</strong>, offering substantial and yet untapped<br />

opportunities for collaboration.<br />

Chinese companies in the EU advocate for the EU to uphold<br />

market rules and international economic and trade regulations.<br />

They call for a reduction in unnecessary trade barriers, increased<br />

transparency, and fairness in economic and trade policies.<br />

Moreover, they recognise that the continuous enhancement of<br />

the business environment will contribute to the development of<br />

a more resilient and dynamic EU market. Consequently, they<br />

emphasise the need to join forces to unlock the vast potential for<br />

collaboration.<br />



The growth trajectory of CCCEU is intrinsically linked to the<br />

deepening trade and business connections between <strong>China</strong> and<br />

the EU. In recent years, the 27-member EU has increasingly<br />

served as a pivotal market and investment destination for<br />

Chinese enterprises.<br />

Notably, last year, <strong>China</strong> and the EU emerged as each other’s<br />

second-largest trading partners. This partnership showcased<br />

remarkable achievements across sectors such as new energy,<br />

automobiles, machinery, green finance, and more. Statistics<br />

revealed that average trade between the two sides exceeded<br />

USD 1.6 million per minute, with bilateral investment stock surpassing<br />

USD 230 billion by year-end.<br />

Bolstered by high-level summits, dialogues, and active communication,<br />

<strong>China</strong> and the EU continue to reinforce the confidence<br />

of bilateral enterprises, paving the way for further exploration of<br />

each other’s markets.<br />


IN THE EU<br />

Looking ahead, CCCEU is poised to enhance its internal and<br />

external collaborations. Internally, the chamber aims to share<br />

resources with Chinese chambers of commerce in the EU member<br />

countries, creating a network of chamber resources that will<br />

meet the needs of the expansion of Chinese companies in the<br />

EU. Externally, CCCEU seeks to strengthen its cooperation with<br />

third-country chambers of commerce in the EU. These efforts will<br />

yield tangible results, particularly in monitoring EU policies, expressing<br />

concerns and feedback, and fostering communication<br />

within the same industry.<br />

In closing, the CCCEU and Chinese companies operating within<br />

the EU remain steadfast in their commitment to focusing on business<br />

rather than allowing economic and trade matters to become<br />

politicised, instrumentalized, or weaponized. Their unwavering<br />

focus remains on fostering mutually beneficial commercial<br />

relationships, promoting trade partnerships, and nurturing an<br />

environment conducive to economic growth.<br />

CCCEU stands as a critical facilitator in strengthening economic<br />

and trade relations between <strong>China</strong> and the EU. Through its mission<br />

and vision, CCCEU not only assists Chinese enterprises in<br />

gaining a foothold in the European market but also contributes to<br />

the dynamism of <strong>China</strong>-EU economic and trade relations.<br />

However, recent years have also witnessed certain EU economic<br />

and trade policies which pose challenges and, at times, barriers<br />

for Chinese companies operating in the EU. CCCEU’s annual<br />

flagship report (2022) revealed that the overall rating of Chinese<br />

companies in the EU regarding the business environment of host<br />

countries has declined for three consecutive years.<br />

Furthermore, its advocacy work aims to ensure a level playing<br />

field for Chinese businesses in Europe and promote fairness,<br />

equity, and sustainability in the dynamic global trade landscape.<br />

As <strong>China</strong> and the EU continue to deepen their economic ties, the<br />

role of CCCEU remains pivotal in fostering mutual growth and<br />

cooperation.<br />

Despite these challenges, Chinese companies in the EU remain<br />

resolute in their belief that the foundation for mutually beneficial<br />

cooperation between both sides remains intact. They acknowledge<br />

the continued significance of the EU market for <strong>China</strong>. The<br />

shared goals of green and digital transformations are central to<br />

The MAS in Antwerp, Belgium<br />

Photo: Shutterstock<br />

62 63




Despite (geo)political differing views,<br />

European businesses remain committed to the size,<br />

profitability and dynamism of the Chinese market<br />

When discussing EU-<strong>China</strong> relations, press attention is usually<br />

focused on reporting negative evolutions in our bilateral relations.<br />

I would therefore like to start this article by observing that 2023<br />

seems to have marked the start of a much-needed reconnection<br />

between Europe and <strong>China</strong>, and re-engagement to expand business<br />

relations between the two. Our organization, the Belgian-<br />

Chinese Chamber of Commerce (BCECC) has seen many<br />

Chinese business delegations eager to travel to the EU again<br />

after the easing of <strong>China</strong>’s COVID-19 measures and the re-opening<br />

of its borders. This is a significant and promising turning<br />

point, and these people-to-people contacts are much-needed<br />

to repair the gap in trust and communication after three years of<br />

limited contacts. By no means does this imply that we can ignore<br />

the challenges and obstacles still facing the world economy.<br />

It would therefore be in the EU and <strong>China</strong>’s best interest to<br />

further strengthen their cooperation to solve common challenges<br />

such as world hunger and climate change. Even though the<br />

EU considers <strong>China</strong> both a strategic rival and partner, it remains<br />

committed to cooperating with <strong>China</strong> to ensure continued<br />

progress in order to reach the Sustainable Development Goals<br />

and the Paris Agreement targets. The EU and <strong>China</strong> both committed<br />

to a comprehensive strategic partnership in the EU-<strong>China</strong><br />

2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation and the 2019 Joint<br />

Communication “EU-<strong>China</strong> – A Strategic Outlook”.<br />

In these frameworks, the EU supported low-carbon urban<br />

developments in <strong>China</strong>, during which European cities such as<br />

Amsterdam and Bologna provided technical advice to Chinese<br />

cities amongst which Zhuhai and Guilin on developing resilient<br />

cities, solid waste management and wastewater treatment.<br />

Moreover, the EU cooperated with the Ministry of Housing and<br />

Urban-Rural Development to set up new and comprehensive<br />

green financing guidelines, and developed training courses in<br />

10 pilot cities. EU projects also helped Chinese SMEs adopt<br />

energy efficient solutions to reduce their environmental impact.<br />

On the other hand, <strong>China</strong> has also taken active efforts to address<br />

climate change by launching major efforts such as a national<br />

strategy to increase the protection of wetlands and animal species,<br />

and has committed to reach peak carbon dioxide emissions<br />

by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2060.<br />

Practically speaking, Chinese and European experts are already<br />

cooperating on emission trading systems, long-term low emissions<br />

development strategies, greenhouse gas emissions from<br />

vehicles and agriculture, on climate-smart cities, on scientific and<br />

technology development, etc.<br />

However, experts still see many possibilities for cooperation on<br />

climate issues, which should not be ignored and could be further<br />

developed. I hereby think about creating a specific EU-<strong>China</strong><br />

64 65

prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmoni-<br />

These differences in political and economic decision-making are<br />

ous and beautiful. At this moment, the accomplishments of the<br />

not only a reflection of each power’s leadership and culture, but<br />

Chinese leadership have been remarkable.<br />

are often a reflection of a completely different way of looking at<br />

the world. Where Europe sees risks, <strong>China</strong> often sees opportuni-<br />

The country lifted 700 million people from poverty, and the<br />

ties.<br />

growth of the Chinese economy into the world’s second largest<br />

economy is a success story, although currently slowing down.<br />

As Chairman of the Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce<br />

<strong>China</strong>’s huge population of 1.4 billion people has access to clean<br />

(BCECC) for over 25 years, I have been lucky enough to witness<br />

and safe drinking water, improved education, health facilities,<br />

the changing relationship between the EU and <strong>China</strong>.<br />

public transport and legal services.<br />

Characterized by many ups and downs, the continuation of diplomatic<br />

and economic relations and people-to-people contacts<br />

Nonetheless, some domestic obstacles in <strong>China</strong> still stand in the<br />

has nonetheless persisted.<br />

way of their development: the growing population of 60+ people<br />

crossing 400 million in 2035, and <strong>China</strong>’s property crisis to name<br />

Especially in today’s world with global threats and challenges<br />

but a few.<br />

continuing to emerge, and dynamics of decoupling, protectionism<br />

and unilateralism, we remain crucial mutual partners. At a<br />

One of the areas in which <strong>China</strong> is aiming to grow its internation-<br />

time when several countries speak about putting up new trade<br />

al presence and influence, is the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).<br />

barriers, we should remember that protectionism has not been<br />

Through the BRI, 149 countries signed Belt and Road cooper-<br />

a solution for social progress and poverty alleviation, on the<br />

ation documents with <strong>China</strong> as of July 2022, making it a great<br />

contrary.<br />

potential platform to promote multilateralism and policy, infrastructure,<br />

trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity.<br />

We need to collectively pursue international cooperation and<br />

resolve any differences through consultation with multilateral<br />

The EU is still an important investment destination for the BRI,<br />

institutions. It is crucial to remove misconceptions undermining<br />

resulting in a growth from EUR 1 billion Chinese foreign direct<br />

the effectiveness of the bilateral dialogue, especially in these<br />

investment in 2008 to EUR 35 billion in 2016.<br />

challenging times.<br />

The majority of Chinese investments are still going to Western-<br />

Despite (geo)political differing views and lowered trust between<br />

Europe, but more and more projects are being implemented in<br />

the EU and <strong>China</strong>, European businesses remain committed to<br />

Central-East- and South-Europe in recent years. Especially in<br />

the size, profitability and dynamism of the Chinese market. Let us<br />

European countries that were hit hard by the euro crisis, <strong>China</strong><br />

continue to focus on how we can strengthen our businesses here<br />

stepped in by investing in regional logistics hubs, for example.<br />

in doing just that.<br />

green finance initiative, or a EU-<strong>China</strong> joint proposal to finance<br />

have significantly negative implications for both and for the world<br />

A great illustration of this is the Piraeus port in Greece, a regional<br />

green projects that have trouble to find private capital.<br />

at large.<br />

logistics hub and key entry point into Europe of which Chinese<br />

The Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce is the largest<br />

company Cosco Shipping Lines now has acquired a majority<br />

bilateral chamber of commerce for companies engaged in<br />

When it comes to eradicating hunger and poverty, EU-<strong>China</strong><br />

For the European market, it would lead to disruptions in our<br />

stake.<br />

business with or in <strong>China</strong>. It has been established in the<br />

cooperation in research has been conducted since <strong>China</strong>’s open-<br />

supply chains and negatively impact economic growth in sectors<br />

1980s after <strong>China</strong>’s opening up, and is a non-profit organi-<br />

door policy in the 1980s. In the 2010s, an EU-<strong>China</strong> Task Force<br />

where <strong>China</strong> plays a crucial role, such as renewable energy and<br />

The EU’s position on the BRI is largely positive, but it remains<br />

zation consisting of more than 500 members.<br />

on Food, Agriculture and Bio Technology was created, as well<br />

electronics. <strong>China</strong>, on the other hand, would lose its access to<br />

vigilant when it comes to <strong>China</strong> adhering to EU market rules and<br />

as the Food, Agriculture and Bio-Technology Flagship Initiative<br />

the high-end technologies on the European market, leading them<br />

international standards and requirements, to ensure a level play-<br />

The Chamber’s main goal is to advance the economic,<br />

to increase joint studies on sustainable agriculture, food security<br />

towards alternative sources of supplies and markets.<br />

ing field. The BRI offers amazing opportunities in terms of trade<br />

financial, cultural and academic cooperation between<br />

and safety.<br />

and economic growth, so we should be careful to only consider<br />

Belgium and <strong>China</strong>. It aims to achieve this by organizing<br />

Having looked at the current state of EU-<strong>China</strong> relations and the<br />

the negative implications for Europe.<br />

seminars and webinars on a broad range of topics, as well<br />

EU-<strong>China</strong> collaboration in Food, Agriculture and Bio-technology<br />

potential for stronger cooperation, it is equally important to keep<br />

as networking events, company visits and lunches with<br />

(FAB) research has been a win-win investment for both sides.<br />

an eye on <strong>China</strong>’s strategic outlook on the future. <strong>China</strong>’s<br />

The channels of communication between the European Union<br />

high-level officials.<br />

Opening the market and increasing the profits of European<br />

Global <strong>China</strong> 2049 Initiative will mark the centenary of the found-<br />

and <strong>China</strong> remain open, but are disrupted from time to time.<br />

researchers selling their sustainable advanced technologies to<br />

ing of the People’s Republic of <strong>China</strong>.<br />

The announcement of the screening mechanism for FDI or the<br />

www.bcecc.be<br />

<strong>China</strong>, the efficiency and quality of Chinese agricultural policies<br />

EU’s countermeasures against Chinese electric vehicles hereby<br />

have improved because of this.<br />

It provides great insight in <strong>China</strong>’s evolving geo-economic<br />

immediately come to mind.<br />

policies and vision for the future across different sectors, as<br />

All photos: BCECC<br />

After having zoomed in on areas of cooperation for the EU and<br />

well as how <strong>China</strong> sees the world. By 2049, the Chinese govern-<br />

<strong>China</strong>, it is clear to see that decoupling our economies would<br />

ment aims to build a great, modern, socialist country that is<br />

66 67





For more than 20 years, our European talents and teams<br />

have been developing ‘Innovation Made in Europe’.<br />

Advancing green technologies and fostering digital inclusion,<br />

now we are working to ensure that no one is left behind<br />

in the twin transition.<br />

Digital InPulse supports French start-ups that provide innovative ICT solutions<br />

Europe is changing. Long the inspiration for the world’s reformers<br />

and innovators, it now seeks to carve a fresh path through precious natural treasures. To combat the devastating damage<br />

Our dynamic vision for the future includes protection for Europe’s<br />

the complex maze of global challenges and opportunities. It is a caused by forest fires across the continent, Huawei worked with<br />

quest for greater resilience. But Europe does not stand alone.<br />

Greek partners to pilot a cutting-edge early detection 5G solution<br />

at Syngrou Forest.<br />

For more than 20 years, Huawei has called Europe “home”. Our<br />

European talents and teams have developed Innovation Made in It connects carbon dioxide and temperature sensors on the<br />

Europe, helping to strengthen the competitiveness of European ground with drones hovering over the forest, and uses Artificial<br />

industries and to support the EU’s goal of strategic autonomy. Intelligence (AI) to monitor images captured in real time to pinpoint<br />

possible fires.<br />

We’ve closely aligned with the European Commission’s digitization<br />

ambitions, operating various research institutes across the<br />

continent and employing thousands of European top minds in This allows local authorities to swiftly reduce the potential fire<br />

R&D.<br />

damage. A forthcoming upgrade will go beyond detection to intervention<br />

by instructing drones to deploy fire extinguishing balls<br />

We contribute around EUR 12.3 billion to the European economy<br />

each year, and our investments currently support more than<br />

and guide citizens to evacuate. Technology saves lives.<br />

140,000 jobs. Europe’s social model is built on the belief that no And our technology protects the environment and livelihoods by<br />

one should be left behind. We share that commitment wholeheartedly.<br />

Our 2021 tax contribution in Europe (EUR 5.2 billion) Huawei 5G, drones from a local partner and sensors to monitor<br />

supporting green agriculture too. In Austria, the integration of<br />

was equivalent to the wages of 147,000 teachers – key pillars of real-time crop growth, has helped farms greatly reduce pesticide<br />

an inclusive society.<br />

use – a core goal of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). This<br />

ELA: The European Leadership Academy equips women with the skills needed to shape the digital age<br />

68 69

smart farming has also improved efficiency and promoted local<br />

life – farmers to doctors, lawyers to astrobiologists. Many of our<br />

recognized inside the EU, connectivity and digital infrastructure<br />

network infrastructure construction, bridging the digital divide<br />

alumnae are now leaders in technology, business or academia,<br />

investments and its funding are key to Europe’s competitive-<br />

between cities and rural areas – tackling another of the EU’s<br />

while others are entrepreneurs bringing innovative solutions to<br />

ness. Huawei is committed to continue driving competition and<br />

on-going challenges.<br />

life; for example, one is building Europe’s leading climate intelli-<br />

innovation to ensure Europe’s digital infrastructure will remain<br />

gence systems for the construction industry, to help it reduce its<br />

world leading and could support Europe’s ambitions in a global<br />

Sustainability also demands a commitment to energy conserva-<br />

carbon emissions.<br />

digital economy. Competition and innovation have in fact been a<br />

tion and emissions reduction. Together with European carriers,<br />

common factor for Europe and Huawei’s success.<br />

we jointly implemented the Green Target Network program at<br />

As a member of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC)<br />

more than 10,000 live network sites last year, saving 4.1 million<br />

since 2004, Huawei believes connectivity is a basic right for<br />

As an integral part of the European Innovation Ecosystem, we are<br />

kWh of electricity. The program scooped the GTI ‘Innovative<br />

every human being. Digital inclusion grants access to limitless<br />

proud of what we have achieved together and our 30-year track<br />

Breakthrough in Mobile Technology Award’ and ‘Outstanding<br />

knowledge and opportunities – in short, to freedom. Quality inter-<br />

record of safety and security, and of how we are contributing to<br />

Detecting Early Signs of Forest Fires with Drone-Based solutions in Greece<br />

Award’ at this year’s Mobile <strong>World</strong> Congress in Barcelona.<br />

net connection creates jobs, promotes development, decreases<br />

a more resilient Union – from providing top-level cybersecurity<br />

poverty and prevents the depopulation of rural areas, which is<br />

training to predicting extreme weather conditions.<br />

By the end of 2022, our digital solutions had helped customers<br />

among Europe’s top demographic challenges. We strive for an<br />

with thousands of European companies, prove that prosperity is<br />

generate 695.1 billion kWh of green power and save 19.5 billion<br />

ever-stronger ethical use of technology, with diverse talents en-<br />

Just last month, our Pangu-Weather Model, the first AI prediction<br />

built on collaboration.<br />

kWh of electricity – equivalent to avoiding 340 million tons of<br />

compassing both top technical skills and a humanist perspective<br />

model to demonstrate higher precision than traditional numerical<br />

CO2 emissions. And Huawei walks the talk in our own opera-<br />

at the forefront of its creation.<br />

weather forecast methods, became available on the European<br />

Innovation is a joint venture. Have all our European partners been<br />

tions.<br />

Weather Agency website. Cooperation is happening, and keeps<br />

wrong to trust us all these years? Hasn’t Huawei’s contribution<br />

Our ambition builds on 20 years as a major contributor to global<br />

benefiting the European society at large.<br />

helped the European economy grow, and remain competitive<br />

Last year alone, we used 390 million kWh of electricity from<br />

ICT standards, including those for cellular, Wi-Fi, and multimedia<br />

worldwide? Haven’t our technologies served well millions of<br />

renewable energy sources and about 1.8 billion kWh from clean<br />

codecs. As a result, Huawei has one of the world’s largest patent<br />

However, the path ahead will not be without challenges. Po-<br />

citizens across all European countries, without a single security<br />

energy sources, up 25 and 15 percent year-on-year, respectively.<br />

portfolios, leading the way in Europe for the past four years as<br />

litically-fuelled confrontation threatens everyone’s peace and<br />

breach in all this time?<br />

Our main campuses are now fully powered by clean energy.<br />

the number 1 patent applicant. In 2022 alone, we filed 4,505<br />

prosperity. In whose interest are those artificial divides and false<br />

applications.<br />

narratives being fuelled? Would Europe be better off if it was cut<br />

I invite you, dear reader, to think critically about our shared<br />

At the same time, our far-reaching commitment to digital inclu-<br />

off from the rest of the world? Or would it instead be intellectually<br />

history, and our immense joint future potential. To see through<br />

sion and decisive support for a more competitive Europe has led<br />

Maintaining unity of global standards is key for all innovators and<br />

and economically poorer, denied so many of the resources and<br />

the geopolitical mud-slinging. And to retain instead an open mind<br />

us to help European SMEs and start-ups shine worldwide. With<br />

businesses worldwide – regardless of their origin. That is why<br />

capabilities required for it to grow and to safeguard the social<br />

and willingness to calmly analyse the facts. They will reveal what<br />

tracks in France, Spain or Ireland, our incubator scheme helps<br />

Huawei and Sweden’s Ericsson recently signed a long-term glob-<br />

benefits enjoyed by its citizens?<br />

truly unites us.<br />

small companies grow and scale their businesses globally.<br />

al patent cross-licensing agreement that covers patents essential<br />

to a wide range of standards for 3G, 4G, and 5G cellular technol-<br />

We need to look afresh at the current state of affairs. Huawei did<br />

Together for a stronger Europe: that is our pledge, and our teams<br />

They can access funding and foreign markets, upgrading their<br />

ogies. Sharing leading technological innovations is essential to<br />

not arrive in Europe yesterday. Our hundreds of collaborations<br />

on the ground will continue working towards this goal – no matter<br />

operations and research with technical support from our top<br />

driving healthy, sustainable industry development across Europe<br />

with European universities and research institutions, as well as<br />

what.<br />

experts. Indeed, talent cultivation has been in Huawei’s DNA<br />

and the world. Working together benefits us all.<br />

since the company’s foundation. Through our training programs,<br />

Europe’s top young minds reap the benefits of academic col-<br />

In fact, our presence in Europe has provided both competition<br />

laboration and knowledge-sharing across diverse cultures and<br />

and innovation power, which has been critical for the EU to stay<br />

innovation traditions.<br />

competitive towards other larger and more centralized economies.<br />

Despite Europe’s decentralized market structure, telecom<br />

By the end of 2022, our Seeds for the Future 2.0 initiative had<br />

operators have been able to offer lower prices while ensuring<br />

reached more than 150 countries and benefited more than 2.43<br />

significantly higher network quality compared to others with more<br />

million people worldwide. We had established ICT Academies<br />

restrictive market access policies. As increasingly discussed and<br />

with more than 2,200 universities – many of them in Europe,<br />

fulfilling the Union’s call to get the European workforce fit for the<br />

digital era.<br />

However, we are not blind to the need to encourage and provide<br />

particular support for more female talent. The EU’s vision for<br />

a gender-equal Europe by 2025 is unfortunately very far from<br />

becoming reality. Huawei seeks to tackle that. Since we started<br />

the European Leadership Academy in 2021, more than 9,000<br />

talented European women from 34 countries have applied to<br />

join our programs. With full scholarships provided, our programs<br />

have already changed the lives of 100 women from all walks of<br />

5G Smart Farming in Austria: Supporting Green and Efficient Agriculture<br />

Photo: Istock<br />

70 71




Hui Zhang, Vice President, NIO Europe<br />

You drive your NIO electric vehicle to a NIO ‘Power Swap<br />

Station’ (PSS), press one button and remove your hands from<br />

electric mobility by providing them with the ability to charge their<br />

EV in a fast and convenient manner.<br />

the steering wheel. The vehicle parks autonomously in the PSS<br />

and is smoothly elevated by a few centimetres. The spent EV<br />

battery is removed, and a charged battery is fitted. Your NIO<br />

is lowered to the ground, and you resume your trip. The entire<br />

Our Power Swap Technology offers a faster and more environmentally<br />

friendly alternative to traditional EV charging systems<br />

and is a real comfort gain on long-distance journeys. Enabled by<br />

process has taken less than five minutes. This is the battery<br />

NIO Innovation Center Berlin<br />

swapping technology that has been embraced across <strong>China</strong><br />

and which NIO is now bringing to Europe.<br />


NIO was founded in 2014 by William Li who at the time expected<br />

a child and reflected on his possible contribution to reducing<br />

smog in his hometown. William founded NIO based on the vision<br />

of a ‘blue sky’ for future generations. Today, ‘Blue Sky Coming’ is<br />

NIO’s guiding philosophy and we are pioneering smart premium<br />

electric vehicles and smart charging solutions.<br />

The climate transition represents a formidable challenge for all<br />

of us. The EU Green Deal sets ambitious targets for Europe to<br />

become the first climate neutral continent by 2050. An essential<br />

step towards net zero is the decarbonization of key sectors such<br />

as mobility. Ahead of the phase-out of ICE vehicles by 2035, NIO<br />

will support Europe’s transition towards clean and sustainable<br />

mobility by responding to the growing demand for electric vehicles<br />

and the necessary infrastructure.<br />

With our innovative charging solutions, NIO will make an important<br />

contribution to the deployment of the required infrastructure<br />

across Europe. In doing so, we will help more drivers switch to<br />

over 1,500 patented technologies, the fully automatic solution<br />

swaps depleted batteries for charged ones without the user<br />

needing to leave their car. Across <strong>China</strong>, over 1,900 PSS are<br />

already available to our users. Combined with our Battery as a<br />

Service (BaaS) concept, our charging approach provides maximum<br />

flexibility. BaaS users can purchase a NIO EV without the<br />

battery, subscribe to battery packs of various capacities (75 kWh,<br />

100 kWh) according to their needs and pay monthly.<br />

So far, thirty NIO Power Swap Stations, which are assembled<br />

in Europe, have been deployed in our key European markets.<br />

In September, I was joined by Simon Wright of The Economist<br />

for NIO’s first ever ‘Power Drive’ in Europe. Driving 860 km from<br />

Amsterdam to Munich – no charging, just four battery swaps – it<br />

was an opportunity for Simon to witness first-hand NIO’s growing<br />

European PSS network and experience the many benefits and<br />

ultra-convenience of our unique battery swap technology.<br />


NIO has already established itself as the most competitive premium<br />

brand in the smart electric vehicle market in <strong>China</strong>. Today<br />

in Europe, a team of 1,250 ‘NIOers’ is working to bring NIO<br />

vehicles, our Power Swap Stations and Battery as a Service to<br />

European users. Following our market entry in 2021, NIO is now<br />

present in five European markets: Norway, Denmark, Sweden,<br />

The Netherlands, and Germany. Many other European countries<br />

will follow in the coming year. By 2025, we plan to extend our<br />

services to users in more than twenty-five countries worldwide.<br />

In addition to those five sales markets, NIO is also present in<br />

Hungary, which hosts our first PSS assembly factory outside of<br />

<strong>China</strong>, and the United Kingdom with our Advanced Engineering<br />

R&D Center.<br />

As we expand into the European market, we are grateful for<br />

the ongoing support of both national and local authorities in<br />

addressing some of the challenges we face in deploying our<br />

Power Swap Stations in Europe. We will continue to engage with<br />

decision-makers on the importance of technology neutrality on<br />

charging infrastructure and the need to remain open to alternative<br />

solutions such as battery swapping stations in upcoming<br />

Regulations.<br />

NIO firmly believes that collective action fosters the best outcome,<br />

and we are proud to have established partnerships with<br />

Hui Zhang, Vice-President, NIO Europe<br />

72 73


The economies of the EU and <strong>China</strong> are deeply intertwined. Last<br />

year alone, <strong>China</strong> accounted for 20 percent of the EU’s imports<br />

and received 9 percent of the EU’s exports. We welcome the<br />

recognition by EU leaders that ‘decoupling’ from <strong>China</strong> is neither<br />

a realistic, nor a desirable proposition.<br />

Indeed, many of those same EU leaders also acknowledge that<br />

Europe’s net-zero transition will be impossible without <strong>China</strong>,<br />

which is by far the largest global producer of solar panels, batteries,<br />

and the necessary raw materials.<br />

The full potential of EU-<strong>China</strong> trade must be nurtured. A stable<br />

and predictable international trade environment will be of mutual<br />

benefit to the EU and <strong>China</strong>. An EU-<strong>China</strong> summit is scheduled<br />

to take place this year.<br />

Our hope is that an enhanced dialogue, more frequent exchanges<br />

at the institutional level will help stabilize relations and enable<br />

both European and Chinese companies to capitalise on the immense<br />

opportunities in areas of shared interest such as sustainable<br />

development, clean mobility, and the digital economy. For our<br />

part, we remain fully focused on enabling NIO users worldwide to<br />

enjoy access to our products.<br />

NIO Power Swap Station<br />

a broad range of Europe’s leading industry suppliers, including<br />

Bosch, ZF, Continental, Brembo and Webasto.<br />

In July, we inaugurated our new Innovation Centre in Berlin,<br />

which will focus on in-car AI and user-experience defined vehicles.<br />

Our teams at the Innovation Centre will develop, test, and<br />

validate a range of technologies that will be tailored to European<br />

users. The Innovation Centre’s location was chosen specifically<br />

to attract Europe’s leading software engineering, machine learning,<br />

AI, and voice systems talent, ahead of greater expansion in<br />

the region.<br />

set decarbonisation targets and roadmaps which will meet SBTi<br />

standards within two years. We were delighted to be recognised<br />

in 2023 in the Corporate Knights Global 100 and to be ranked the<br />

first among car brands on the <strong>World</strong>’s Most Sustainable Companies<br />

list.<br />

In Europe, our commitment to sustainability is visible through<br />

our Clean Parks initiatives. Beginning in Denmark last year, NIO<br />

announced a partnership with the Danish Society for Nature<br />

Conservation and the Danish Nature Foundation to promote<br />

sustainable development.<br />

NIO’s Clean Parks project in Denmark will create improved local<br />

CONTRIBUTING TO SUSTAINABILITY IN EUROPE habitats for animals and plants and promote opportunities for the<br />

public to explore and experience nature sustainably. In carefully<br />

NIO recognises that the smart EV industry must play a key part selected nature reserves, NIO will help create a clean energy<br />

in the low carbon transformation of the economy and society. In infrastructure and improved facilities for park visitors.<br />

2023, NIO became the first new energy vehicle company in <strong>China</strong><br />

to join the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and we will<br />

Power Drive<br />

74 75



IN CHINA<br />

Bart Horsten, Managing Director, Horsten International<br />

Although my personal connection to <strong>China</strong> started in 1998, <strong>China</strong><br />

has been part of my life already since the early eighties, the<br />

period during which my father (the late Joos Horsten) travelled<br />

to <strong>China</strong> multiple times for the <strong>China</strong> project of Janssen Pharmaceutica.<br />

In August 2023, I celebrated 25 years of doing business<br />

in <strong>China</strong> and getting ready to leave on my 100th business trip to<br />

<strong>China</strong>.<br />


Travelling to <strong>China</strong> and doing business with <strong>China</strong> 40 years ago<br />

was quite different from today. That’s what also made the pioneering<br />

work of the Janssen <strong>China</strong> team, led by Joos Horsten, so<br />

exceptional. Inspired by Dr. Paul Janssen and with the support<br />

of the provinces of Shaanxi and Antwerp, the Xi’an Janssen<br />

joint venture became a success story, a major reference in the<br />

pharmaceutical industry in <strong>China</strong> and a prominent example of a<br />

successful Sino-Belgian partnership.<br />

Following the successful cooperation of Janssen with its Chinese<br />

partners, Joos Horsten was also instrumental in the establishment<br />

of the friendship agreement between the provinces of<br />

Antwerp and Shaanxi. With the support from Joos and written<br />

by Geerdt Magiels, a book was published in 2003, which tells<br />

the intriguing story of how Dr. Paul Janssen established Janssen<br />

Pharmaceutica in 1953, and how Janssen became a true pioneer<br />

in the global pharmaceutical industry and in <strong>China</strong>.<br />

from looking for investment opportunities for Western companies<br />

in <strong>China</strong> to looking for distribution partners or Chinese suppliers<br />

for my European customers.<br />

THE GROWTH YEARS (1998 – 2019)<br />

In 1998 I started working in my father’s company, Horsten International,<br />

a consulting company engaged in providing services to<br />

Belgian and European companies in doing business with <strong>China</strong>.<br />

I consider myself a privileged witness of <strong>China</strong>’s impressive<br />

growth in the past two decades.<br />

Although difficult to imagine now, in the 1990s and the 2000s,<br />

<strong>China</strong> was very much dependent on the products, technologies<br />

and investments from European or American investors. <strong>China</strong> did<br />

not have the equivalent research capacities or management skills<br />

yet, not to mention the financial means or level of education.<br />

Furthermore, the investment requirements, salaries and costs<br />

were still extremely low, and <strong>China</strong> was called ‘the factory of the<br />

world’.<br />

During the 2010s, <strong>China</strong> continued its fast growth and increasingly<br />

gained the power and resources to purchase whatever they<br />

wanted or needed. The focus of my consulting business changed<br />

THE COVID YEARS (2020 – TODAY)<br />

During the past 3.5 years, many European companies have<br />

re-evaluated their <strong>China</strong> strategy. Ongoing trade disagreements<br />

and political tensions involving <strong>China</strong> on the international stage,<br />

combined with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the<br />

global supply chain, have impacted the trading business with<br />

<strong>China</strong>, both in terms of sourcing from <strong>China</strong>, as well as for<br />

exports to <strong>China</strong>.<br />

On the other hand, <strong>China</strong> remains an irreplaceable sourcing<br />

hub and hugely important export destination for many Belgian<br />

companies. Hence, <strong>China</strong>’s importance to Belgium cannot be<br />

ignored.<br />

<strong>China</strong>’s isolation during the three Covid years has created a form<br />

of alienation between <strong>China</strong> and the West. The fact that many<br />

foreigners have left the country has not helped either.<br />

76 77

Especially in a country like <strong>China</strong>, where personal contact, trust<br />

and interpersonal relationships are so extremely important in<br />

doing business, staying away for three years is not conducive to<br />

good relations between parties. It will take a long time to rebuild<br />

that lost trust. The only way to resolve this is to restart the dialogue,<br />

both at the corporate and European government levels.<br />


Doing business in <strong>China</strong> and being successful is becoming a<br />

greater challenge than ever. It is clear that Chinese companies<br />

are now in the driver’s seat when talking about doing business<br />

between Western countries and <strong>China</strong>. However, we should not<br />

necessarily see this as a threat. I am convinced that, if we keep<br />

an open mind, there are still a lot of opportunities for Belgian<br />

companies in <strong>China</strong>.<br />

The only way forward is to keep looking for cooperation between<br />

European and Chinese companies. We can no longer win the<br />

economic and technological battle with <strong>China</strong>, but that does not<br />

mean that there are no opportunities for European or Belgian<br />

companies. On the contrary: it is up to European companies and<br />

governments to find a way to cooperate with <strong>China</strong> and to enter<br />

into intelligent partnerships with Chinese companies, not only for<br />

the Chinese market, but also for the benefit of global expansion.<br />

Because Chinese ambitions extend beyond <strong>China</strong>; it is now a<br />

matter of Going Global.<br />

78 79






<strong>China</strong> Three Gorges Europe (CTGEU)<br />

In March 2019, the European Commission published a document<br />

titled EU-<strong>China</strong>: A strategic outlook, which conceives of <strong>China</strong><br />

as “a cooperation partner with whom the EU has closely aligned<br />

objectives; a negotiating partner with whom the EU needs to find<br />

a balance of interests; an economic competitor in the pursuit of<br />

technological leadership and a systemic rival promoting alternative<br />

models of governance.”<br />

Since then, this line of thinking has always affected the EU’s<br />

strategic perception of <strong>China</strong>. Europe’s perception of <strong>China</strong> is<br />

inevitably changing, with the international geopolitical realities<br />

of the present day. At present, <strong>China</strong>-Europe relations face more<br />

challenges than before.<br />

CTG-EDP Board Meetings<br />

However, despite the test of reality, <strong>China</strong> and Europe share<br />

many common interests, and there are still important opportunities<br />

for cooperation between them. The frequent exchanges of<br />

high-level visits between <strong>China</strong> and Europe this year also reflects<br />

the strong willingness of both sides to engage.<br />

As two major forces, two big markets and two great civilizations,<br />

<strong>China</strong> and Europe should continue to pursue win-win cooperation<br />

for it serves the common interests of <strong>China</strong> and Europe<br />

as well as those of the international community. <strong>China</strong>–Europe<br />

relations will continue to move forward against a backdrop of<br />

enormous potential challenges.<br />

CTGE Portugal Scholarship<br />



There is no fundamental conflict of interest between <strong>China</strong> and<br />

Europe; our cooperation far outweighs competition, and there<br />

are far more areas of common understanding than disagreements.<br />

Facing the same world, <strong>China</strong> and Europe share the same<br />

or similar aspirations, namely the pursuit of world peace and<br />

sustainable development and the maintenance of an international<br />

order based on genuine multilateralism.<br />

Both sides benefit from a stable and predictable world order and<br />

have a responsibility to work together to respond to the call of<br />

our times.<br />

Europe has a strong energy sector. EU energy and specifically<br />

the renewables sector has grown very quickly over the past 10<br />

years. In the future, new energy will become an important area of<br />

<strong>China</strong>-Europe cooperation. The two sides can gain more profits<br />

and influence by strengthening cooperation in investment, trade,<br />

research and development, and standards in the field of new<br />

energy, while also contributing to the global energy transition<br />

and environmental protection to jointly address the challenges of<br />

environmental pollution and climate change.<br />

CTGEU has always sought cooperation with utmost sincerity.<br />

We also look forward to a fair and just business environment for<br />

Chinese companies in Europe and hope that the European side<br />

will adopt a positive attitude towards Chinese companies. In<br />

the international markets we behave like any other international<br />

investor: following the international rules of the game.<br />

But at the same time, we are aware of who we are and of the<br />

geopolitical situation. We only invest in those countries where we<br />

are welcome. We actively engage in cooperation and exchanges<br />

with governments of other countries, strengthen policy dialogue<br />

and consultation, promote the sustainable economic and social<br />

development of the countries where our projects are located, and<br />

communicate and cooperate with excellent local companies and<br />

industry groups to promote industry progress.<br />

We are always committed to generating significant benefits for<br />

countries, sectors, and consumers.<br />

Both <strong>China</strong> and Europe are large and open economies that<br />

have benefited a lot from globalization. Anti-globalization and<br />

de-globalization serve neither side’s interests. We must expand<br />

common interests and take a long-term view, which will be good<br />

for both sides and deliver benefits to the world.<br />

80 81

Universidad de Jaén Visited CTGE Manzanares Plant<br />

corporate citizenship, and conveying the kindness and sincerity<br />

of the Chinese people to the European people.<br />


<strong>China</strong> Three Gorges Europe is a clean energy generation com-<br />

CGTN Shooting at CTGE Daylight PV Plant<br />

Fulfilling CSR is the need for Chinese enterprises to participate<br />

pany, belonging to <strong>China</strong> Three Gorges Corporation, the largest<br />

in international economic cooperation. It is not only related to the<br />

clean energy group in <strong>China</strong> and the largest hydropower compa-<br />



TY (CSR)<br />

working environment for employees, so that Chinese and foreign<br />

employees can grow together with the company.<br />

We make a positive impact everywhere we go. CTGEU places<br />

realization of the enterprise’s development strategies, but could<br />

also play an effective role in promoting exchanges, dialogue,<br />

and communication between the people of <strong>China</strong> and Europe,<br />

solidifying public support for long-term steady progress in<br />

<strong>China</strong>-Europe relations.<br />

ny worldwide.<br />

Since 2011, we have been contributing to Europe’s energy<br />

transition and decarbonization goals by investing in a number of<br />

leading clean energy generation platforms in various countries in<br />

Enterprises are important carriers of economy, diplomacy and<br />

sustainability, environmental awareness, and social responsibility<br />

the region, including Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy, Poland, the<br />

culture of a country, and the overseas image of Chinese enter-<br />

at the heart of its business operations.<br />

As President Xi Jinping pointed out in his important speech at<br />

UK and Greece.<br />

prises is directly related to <strong>China</strong>’s national image. Building a<br />

the High-level Dialogue on Global Development in 2022, this is<br />

good image of Chinese enterprises plays an important role in<br />

While continuously expanding international business, CTGEU<br />

an age rife with challenges, but it is also an age full of hope. We<br />

Currently, <strong>China</strong> Three Gorges Europe has over 75 employees,<br />

presenting a true, multi-dimensional and panoramic view of<br />

is committed to improving the educational environment in the<br />

must get a good grasp of the overarching development trends in<br />

distributed throughout the company’s various offices and centres<br />

<strong>China</strong> to the world and connecting <strong>China</strong> with the world.<br />

country where our projects are located, actively carrying out<br />

the world, firm up confidence, and act in unison and with great<br />

in Spain, Portugal, Germany, Greece and Luxembourg. The<br />

donation activities, by setting up educational scholarships and<br />

motivation to promote global development and foster a develop-<br />

team is made up of a very diversified group of professionals,<br />

CTGEU takes root in the countries where our projects are locat-<br />

donating schools. CTGEU supports local development projects<br />

ment paradigm featuring benefits for all, balance, coordination,<br />

from many different countries, with complementary profiles and<br />

ed, respects the laws and regulations, local culture and religious<br />

and truly gives back to the community. In Germany, we sponsor<br />

inclusiveness, win-win cooperation and common prosperity. We<br />

extensive experience in the renewable energy sector, focused on<br />

beliefs of the host country, actively absorbs local employees and<br />

local universities to strengthen cultural exchanges. In Greece, we<br />

will also firmly commit to the entrustment and make greater con-<br />

cross-border acquisitions primarily in Europe.<br />

promotes their diversity and builds a professional talent team<br />

donate to nursing homes and village clinics, aiming to provide<br />

tributions to promoting mutually beneficial cooperation between<br />

with international vision. We attach great importance to cultural<br />

better medical services and public welfare services for residents.<br />

<strong>China</strong> and Europe.<br />

In 2021, <strong>China</strong> Three Gorges Europe established its new head-<br />

integration and cross-cultural management and are committed<br />

We strive to interpret the concept of a community with a shared<br />

quarters in Madrid, Spain.<br />

to eliminating cultural barriers and creating an open and inclusive<br />

future for mankind with actions, demonstrating responsible<br />

82 83

One Belt One Road in CTG Greece<br />


2011: <strong>China</strong> Three Gorges established its European subsidiary in<br />

2011, when the company decided to acquire a 21 percent stake<br />

in Energías de Portugal (EDP), becoming a key strategic shareholder<br />

and partner of the Portuguese energy company.<br />

2012: CTG Europe took an additional 49 percent stake in EDPR<br />

(established in 2007 to hold and operate the growing renewable<br />

energy assets of parent company Energias de Portugal (EDP)),<br />

which controls an onshore wind portfolio with a capacity of<br />

around 649.4 MW in the country.<br />

2018: CTG Europe entered the UK energy market for the first<br />

time through the acquisition of a 10 percent stake of the 950 MW<br />

Moray East offshore wind farm off the coast of Scotland.<br />

2020: CTG Europe took over a solar portfolio from Spanish<br />

company X-Elio’s totalling 572 MW. This marked the company’s<br />

entrance into Spain.<br />

2021: <strong>China</strong> Three Gorges Europe acquired a 400 MW renewable<br />

energy portfolio from Corporación Masaveu in northern Spain.<br />

The predominantly wind energy portfolio includes a 4 MWp solar<br />

installation in La Rioja.<br />

In the same year, <strong>China</strong> Three Gorges Europe began construction<br />

of a solar photovoltaic plant in Greece, with an 18 MWp (Megawatt<br />

peak) capacity.<br />

2016: <strong>China</strong> Three Gorges Europe acquired an 80 percent stake<br />

in German renewable company WindMW, which owns a 288<br />

MW offshore wind energy farm off the coast of Germany named<br />

Meerwind.<br />

In 2021, the company officially established its headquarters in<br />

Madrid, Spain.<br />

2022: CTG Europe took over an 181 MW onshore wind portfolio<br />

from EDP in Spain.<br />

The business added two additional portfolios in the country: the<br />

104 MWp solar photovoltaic Belvis portfolio from Aldesa and the<br />

619 MW solar PV Roadrunner portfolio from Nexwell.<br />

Chinese Lantern Festival Celebration in CTGE<br />

84 85




Marcel van der Vliet<br />

President, European Liaison Committee for Agricultural<br />

and Agri-Food Trade (CELCAA)<br />

CELCAA is the European Liaison Committee for Agricultural and<br />

Agri-Food Trade and, as such, represents at European level the<br />

most essential food sectors such as meat and livestock, dairy,<br />

cereals, grain, and oilseed trade, eggs, egg whites, and egg<br />

yolks, wine and aromatized wine products, hops, tea, and herbal<br />

infusions, tobacco, and the butch craft sector and their trade.<br />

We represent, in total, more than 25,000 agri-food producers and<br />

traders in Europe. Our vision is to create open, fair, and sustainable<br />

agri-food trade by ensuring that agri-food trade is recognized<br />

as an essential pillar of a sustainable and resilient EU and<br />

international food and farming systems.<br />

Global agri-food trade has always been an important cornerstone<br />

to food and nutrition security as well as to enable economic<br />

growth and outlet opportunities for farmers and their products<br />

worldwide. As we head into a period of a changing agricultural<br />

landscape with crop migration, growing water scarcity, and<br />

increasingly extreme weather events impacting yields, agri-food<br />

trade will become even more important as a mitigator of the<br />

effects of climate change to ensure that agri-food resources are<br />

well distributed between regions of excess supplies and those<br />

of deficit supplies. While further thought must be given to the<br />

continued transition towards enhanced sustainable agri-food<br />

trade, one of the major and increasingly important prerequisites<br />

of food security will be the possibility to access markets in the<br />

most open and fair way possible.<br />

<strong>China</strong> and the EU already look back on a successful and stable<br />

market evolution, with <strong>China</strong> being the third largest agri-food<br />

export destination for EU agri-food trade with a market value<br />

of EUR 17.1 billion, currently dominated by meat, beverages,<br />

and dairy exports. <strong>China</strong> accounts as the fifth biggest origin for<br />

agri-food imports to the EU, with animal and vegetable fats, but<br />

increasingly also vegetables and oilseeds amongst the top three<br />

imports, with a total market value of EUR 6.1 billion. Therefore,<br />

building mutual trust and understanding continues to be a priority<br />

on both sides.<br />




With an ever-complex world and increasing regulatory challenges,<br />

EU agri-food traders have understood that cooperation<br />

and continued public-private dialogue are essential to having<br />

86 87

a seamless and swift understanding of upcoming regulatory<br />

challenges. Agri-food traders represent the part of the food<br />

chain implementing at the operational level; therefore, engaged<br />

dialogue through official channels and fora of DG Trade but also<br />

continuous engagement with the Chinese Mission to the EU<br />

ensure appropriate contingency planning, better understanding<br />

of upcoming changes, and also allow building long-term<br />

trustful relationships. As diverging standards are often a reason<br />

for trade disruptions, channels such as the announcement of<br />

the reopening of the working group on alcoholic beverages are<br />

welcomed as important approaches to regulatory cooperation.<br />

CELCAA understands itself as an organization that builds bridges<br />

between policies and trading reality and therefore regularly holds<br />

debriefings together with the Chinese Mission to the EU as<br />

well as Commission officials on such important matters as the<br />

newly implemented Decree 247 and Decree 248 by the General<br />

Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of <strong>China</strong>.<br />

Such cooperation ensured that, despite logistics and sanitary<br />

challenges, a steady supply of essential agri-food products could<br />

be secured in both directions.<br />




CELCAA members such as the Comité Européen des Entreprises<br />

Vins (CEEV), or the European Livestock and Meat Trades Union<br />

(UECBV), have engaged in cooperation with sectoral organizations<br />

in <strong>China</strong> with the ambition to facilitate technical assistance,<br />

seminars, collective trainings, and study visits to facilitate<br />

information exchanges. These relationships, often manifested by<br />

Memoranda of Understanding, do not just help to build market<br />

relations but often result in lasting friendships and intercultural<br />

exchange.<br />

One very good example is the EU-<strong>China</strong> Wine Cooperation<br />

Project between the Comité Europeéen des Entreprises Vins and<br />

<strong>China</strong> Alcoholic Drinks Association (CADA), which launched an<br />

unprecedented comprehensive business-to-business cooperation<br />

project through a series of short-term activities organized in<br />

Europe or in <strong>China</strong>, laying the foundations for a trustful long-term<br />

collaboration between both sectors.<br />

And also, the Dutch Meat Association COV looks back at<br />

long-standing relations with the <strong>China</strong> Entry-Exit Inspection and<br />

Quarantine Association (CIQA) and the Chinese Meat Association,<br />

CMA.<br />

While COVID had led to a slowdown in personal visits, it is now<br />

back in full swing, with the Netherlands just presently being the<br />

Guest Country of Honour of the <strong>China</strong> International Meat Industry<br />

Exhibition (CIMIE) in Chongqing, <strong>China</strong>, with many activities to<br />

bring the Dutch and Chinese meat sectors closer to each other.<br />

CELCAA will continue to support the deepening of such relations<br />

as an essential tool to build not only business but real relationships.<br />



Agri-food production is a haptic and sensory experience. Seeing,<br />

smelling, and also understanding the individual challenges agrifood<br />

producers face is essential not only to appreciate the final<br />

product but also to build trust in the quality of the product and<br />

production methods on the ground. Visits such as the field visit<br />

just conducted together with the Chinese Mission to the EU this<br />

July to the vineyard of a Belgian sparkling wine producer are<br />

important to build further knowledge.<br />

<strong>China</strong> is the 6th biggest export market in value for EU wines and<br />

accounted for over EUR 800 million in 2022. These visits are<br />

therefore fundamental to maintaining easy and fair access to the<br />

Chinese market.<br />

In a period where innovation is crucial to securing future production,<br />

cooperation and visits to the ground will create the basis<br />

for common growth and learning, a mission to which CELCAA is<br />

dedicated.<br />

88 89

90 91

The ten years of the Belt and Road Initiative has proven that the<br />

rise of <strong>China</strong> has not brought colonialism, disaster, war, refugees,<br />

and crises. Instead, it brought the world trade, commodities, tourists,<br />

infrastructure, economic growth and civilisation. No matter<br />

how Western politicians, media, and think tanks vilify the BRI, they<br />

cannot cover up a basic fact – that is, when <strong>China</strong> is strong, it<br />

does not take the old path of aggression and expansion we see in<br />

the histories of Europe, the US, Japan, and others.<br />

Time goes by so fast that the “Belt and Road Initiative” has already<br />

seen ten years. In October 2023, <strong>China</strong> hosted the 3rd Belt and<br />

Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF). Journalists and<br />

scholars from around the world have been digesting and reflecting<br />

on ten years of BRI. There remain some Western narratives,<br />

focusing on certain individual cases or judging from certain angles,<br />

that still are not optimistic about the Initiative. In fact, Chinese<br />

President Xi Jinping proposed the “Silk Road Economic Belt” and<br />

the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” initiatives (referred to as the<br />

“Belt and Road”) in September and October 2013 in Kazakhstan<br />

and Indonesia respectively. In the following ten years, we have<br />

witnessed significant changes in the world.<br />

From the perspective of foreign strategy, the BRI is the first<br />

concept for global cooperation in the history of <strong>China</strong>’s 5000-yearold<br />

civilisation that has both global strategic significance and a<br />

clear path for implementation. From the perspective of economic<br />

structure, the BRI has revamped <strong>China</strong>’s past international trade<br />

structure which had been overly reliant on the West, and gradually<br />

promoted the rebalancing of <strong>China</strong>’s economic focus. From a cultural<br />

perspective, the BRI has completely reshaped the world view<br />

of the Chinese in the new era and fostered a global perspective of<br />

all-round openness.<br />



Wang Wen, Executive Dean<br />

Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies<br />

But, for the international community, the changes BRI has brought<br />

to the world is more valuable than the changes it has brought<br />

<strong>China</strong>. In fact, while the “Belt and Road” promotes the rebalancing<br />

of <strong>China</strong>’s economic and trade structure, it is also promoting<br />

changes to the pattern of international relations and global perspectives.<br />

These changes not only influence the actual development<br />

and future paths of more and more countries at the level of<br />

investment and infrastructure, but also promote the changes and<br />

evolution of the international system at the institutional and conceptual<br />

levels. From the perspective of real development, the “Belt<br />

and Road Initiative” has significantly improved the well-being of<br />

those in the non-Western world, while boosting their interconnectedness<br />

with <strong>China</strong>. As of July 2023, a total of 152 countries have<br />

signed BRI cooperation agreements with <strong>China</strong>. In Africa, <strong>China</strong><br />

has built more than 6,000 kilometres of railways, over 10,000<br />

kilometres of highways, 20 plus ports, more than 80 major infrastructure<br />

developments and 80 percent of telecommunications<br />

facilities. In the past ten years, <strong>China</strong> has opened more than 1,300<br />

new airline routes with BRI countries. More than 80 countries have<br />

seen new bank branches opened or financial cooperation established.<br />

<strong>China</strong>’s average annual outward foreign investment remains<br />

at USD 150 billion, with more and more of <strong>China</strong>’s capital flowing<br />

to BRI countries.<br />

According to statistics, the “Belt and Road Initiative” adds 1.2-3.4<br />

percent of the actual national total income of the countries along<br />

the route. A large number of iconic BRI projects, such as the<br />

Mombasa–Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway, the <strong>China</strong>-Laos<br />

Railway, and the Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway, are completed<br />

and operational, to benefit the local communities. The BRI<br />

also strengthened the mutual understanding between <strong>China</strong> and<br />

the non-Western world. Each year, more than 400,000 students<br />

from BRI countries study in <strong>China</strong>, while <strong>China</strong> has established<br />

Confucius Institutes, Luban Workshops, and Cultural Centres in<br />

more than 100 countries.<br />

From the perspective of the future, ten years of BRI has prompted<br />

developing countries to reconsider their choice of development<br />

model. In the past, developing countries often regarded the<br />

“Washington Consensus” as the only point of reference for their<br />

development path. The achievements of ten years of BRI show<br />

that the Chinese economic experience, which champions “infrastructure<br />

first”, is more suitable to the up-and-coming countries.<br />

More importantly, the high success rate of <strong>China</strong>’s infrastructure<br />

production capacity and trade investment, accompanied by a set<br />

of operation frameworks that ranges from planning to design, from<br />

financing to construction, and from operation to breaking even,<br />

has enabled developing countries that have been trapped by a<br />

lack of technology and capital to catch up from behind and even<br />

surge ahead.<br />

Nowadays, more and more developing countries are contemplating<br />

and reflecting in depth: Why has <strong>China</strong>—once among the<br />

poorest of all countries—seen a complete transformation in the<br />

past 40 years? Why not choose, learn from, reference, or even<br />

comprehensively copy <strong>China</strong>’s economic growth experience<br />

encapsulated in the saying “building the road is the first step to<br />

become prosperous”? What is more encouraging is that in the<br />

past five or six years, in the face of suppression by the US, <strong>China</strong><br />

has still maintained medium-to-high-speed growth. Technology<br />

companies like Huawei have continued to launch new high-tech<br />

products after strict and watertight sanctions. Ten years of BRI cooperation<br />

is encouraging the will of the up-and-coming countries<br />

to strive for a better future, and thereby improving the balance and<br />

fairness of the international community in the fields of technology,<br />

trade, and rules.<br />

From the perspective of strategic response, ten years of BRI<br />

have been forcing Western countries to reflect on and adjust their<br />

foreign strategy. According to incomplete statistics, in the past ten<br />

years, Western countries have compiled more than 3,000 various<br />

reports on BRI. From the Trump administration’s repeated emphasis<br />

on policies promoting infrastructure construction and the<br />

development of manufacturing, to the Biden government’s leading<br />

role in the launch of the “Build Back Better <strong>World</strong>” (B3W) at the G7<br />

summit and the unveiling of “Partnership for Global Infrastructure<br />

and Investment” (PGII), all of them are inspired by the BRI, and yet<br />

has to compete with the BRI to maintain the so-called “leadership”<br />

of the West.<br />

In a Forbes article, it was said that while <strong>China</strong> issued loans and<br />

provided infrastructure to countries lacking in funds around the<br />

world, the United States plays the role of a miser. Objectively<br />

speaking, global governance headed by the West has made<br />

historical contributions, but it has to be said that, in the 70 years<br />

following the end of WWII, and especially since the end of the Cold<br />

War, the negative impact the West had on the world far outweighs<br />

the positives. Nowadays, Western countries are reflecting on<br />

themselves, increasing their efforts to cooperate, in an attempt to<br />

compete with <strong>China</strong>. If it can actually help developing countries, it<br />

must be said that it is also an unexpected surprise brought by the<br />

ten years of BRI.<br />

What is regrettable is that the West attempts to compete with the<br />

BRI through strategic reflection, which is full of lies, slander and<br />

speculation. A case in point is the talk of debt in Western media<br />

and think tank circles.<br />

In fact, <strong>China</strong> has promoted infrastructure construction through<br />

foreign policy loans, reducing the cost of current economic<br />

transactions with highways, railways, and ports to improve the<br />

efficiency of economic activities, which then drive up the land and<br />

real estate prices in the region. The local government can then<br />

easily repay the various debts under sovereign guarantee. This<br />

logic, which might be called “BRI Economics,” surpasses the theoretical<br />

assumptions and rationale of Western economics, and also<br />

reflects the powerlessness and absurdity of the Western attacks<br />

on BRI debts.<br />

However, criticism and besieging of the Belt and Road Initiative<br />

has been popular in the West for ten years, and will remain popular.<br />

This reflects the long-term international challenges facing BRI.<br />

It hasn’t been long since the Chinese first made contact with the<br />

world and participate in global governance. For thousands of<br />

years, <strong>China</strong> was isolated and confined to the east of the Qinghai-Tibetan<br />

Plateau and the western desert, and only maintained<br />

contact with other countries through the land-based and maritime<br />

Silk Road. At that time, whether it was the Han or Tang Dynasties,<br />

or the Yuan, Ming, the Silk Road was busy exactly when countries<br />

in the European hinterland were at the height of their civilisation<br />

and economic prosperity. In 2013, when <strong>China</strong> ranked as the<br />

world’s second largest economy, it launched the Belt and Road<br />

Initiative in the name of the “Silk Road” to revive the historical<br />

memory of the common prosperity of the ancient civilisations,<br />

showing the aspiration of a rising global power to mutually beneficial,<br />

peaceful and win-win cooperation, and, ultimately, to the joint<br />

rejuvenation of the world.<br />

No matter how Western politicians, media, and think tanks vilify<br />

BRI, they cannot cover up a basic fact – that is, when <strong>China</strong> is<br />

strong, it does not take the old path of aggression and expansion<br />

we see in the histories of Europe, the US, Japan, and others.<br />

The ten years of the Belt and Road Initiative has proven that the<br />

rise of <strong>China</strong> has not brought colonialism, disaster, war, refugees,<br />

and crises. Instead, it brought the world trade, commodities, tourists,<br />

infrastructure, and economic growth and civilisation. This has<br />

never been achieved by Western countries in the histories of their<br />

rise to power. Of course, new things will inevitably be accompanied<br />

by bewilderment. During the tenth year of Reform and Opening<br />

up, even mainstream academics in <strong>China</strong> were arguing about<br />

whether the “market” was socialist or capitalist in bewilderment;<br />

now, after 45 years of Reform and Opening up, no one suspects its<br />

great significance any longer.<br />

The Belt and Road Initiative is only ten years old. For a grand<br />

strategy like BRI, ten years is too short to fully assess its impact,<br />

but it has already shown its extraordinary significance. The BRI<br />

is willing to make time its friend. In 20, 30, or 40 years, or more,<br />

maybe everyone will then come to admire the greatness of the Belt<br />

and Road Initiative in the same way we have come to admire the<br />

greatness of <strong>China</strong>’s Reform and Opening-up.<br />

This article first appeared in the public policy journal “Pearls and<br />

Irritations” and republished with the author’s kind permission.<br />

92 93

Between 2013 and the start of 2020, <strong>China</strong>’s policy of communication<br />

and image projection was generally considered a success.<br />

The country of all possibilities fascinated the West and the world<br />

in all its dimensions: culture, economy, education, language,<br />

research…<br />

Seductive soft power, from Pandas to Tai Chi, and dynamic<br />

language learning were the visible, mainstream markers of the<br />

country’s openness to the world. Introduced in 2013, BRI immediately<br />

added to these elements. In 2023, the tenth anniversary<br />

provides an opportunity to take stock, as infrastructure projects<br />

are now considered, in <strong>China</strong> as elsewhere, to be also elements<br />

of a country’s soft power, or more broadly, influence.<br />

Developing effective soft power requires staying true to a<br />

well-defined line, resources, and values. In this respect, <strong>China</strong><br />

is firmly committed to the long-term, a concept central to its<br />

civilization. And its political, cultural, and social model, as a pragmatic<br />

and effective alternative to that of the West, is the clear<br />

line promoted by the country. To underpin and reinforce this, the<br />

government and the Chinese Communist Party have developed<br />

the concept of the Chinese dream, or the Great rejuvenation of<br />

the nation.<br />

Given the global dimensions of the BRI, this reflection, in line<br />

with the theme of this issue, is limited to examining the subject in<br />

relation to the European Union and not in other regions. According<br />

to the official version, the BRI is about connecting countries<br />

and their economies for balanced, inclusive growth 1 . The project<br />

is also part of <strong>China</strong>’s globalization strategy.<br />

A concept hammered home by Chinese diplomacy, the BRI has<br />

entered the political and media discourse. In this context, the<br />

government’s arguments focus on a model of non-interference,<br />

in which all players must benefit from economic development,<br />

including the most modest or poorest countries. Legitimised by<br />

the discourse of Chinese players, the BRI is taken up by many<br />

media outlets in the EU 2 .<br />




Olivier Arifon<br />

Université Catholique de Lille<br />

However, with the onset of war in Ukraine in 2022, the BRI faces<br />

physical constraints of flow and security in addition to the analyses<br />

developed by different agencies 3 .<br />

Over the years, researchers and media have compiled a list of<br />

risks – real or perceived – of the BRI: so-called “Debt trap”, lack<br />

of transparency, low benefit to local economy, lack of legal protection,<br />

technology transfer, leveraging of partnership between<br />

corporations, funding of higher education programs and media<br />

partnerships. To illustrate the reality of the BRI membership in the<br />

EU sphere, the Italian case is interesting.<br />


To attempt, briefly, to assess the effect or impact of an EU<br />

Member State’s participation in the BRI, Italy as a case study is<br />

interesting: “What all chapters showed is that narrative and action<br />

are often out of synch. While the narrative of both opportunity<br />

and risk was hyped when Italy decided to sign the MoU, the<br />

reality was reasonable, manageable and not exceptional in the<br />

European landscape. Even now that tensions between Europe<br />

and <strong>China</strong> are running much higher than just three years ago,<br />

collaborations between European and Chinese actors continue.<br />

Such collaborations may carry risks, but there is little benefit in<br />

labelling everything as a risk without proper data-based assessment.<br />

Some collaborations may very well even be mutually<br />

beneficial 4 .”<br />

As a result, most of the risks discussed are irrelevant in the case<br />

of Italy, one of the few Member States to have signed an MoU on<br />

the BRI at the time of writing. This case provides a concrete illustration<br />

of how a country positions itself in relation to <strong>China</strong> and<br />

the BRI, vacillating between economic and trade interests and<br />

the political logic of association. Ultimately, it reveals the tensions<br />

and discussions between the EU and its Member States. For its<br />

part, the EU is pushing against <strong>China</strong>’s BRI.<br />



In 2022, the EU launched the Global Gateway concept, à la BRI,<br />

but with its own economic, financial, and ecological rules. Its lack<br />

of precision and dedicated structures and financial commitments<br />

makes it uncertain. At the same time, the EU has developed regulatory<br />

instruments to increase the capacities of its institutions<br />

and Member States vis-à-vis third parties, including <strong>China</strong>. The<br />

list is as follows:<br />

• International Procurement Instrument<br />

• Anti-foreign Subsidy legislation<br />

• Foreign Direct Investment Screening<br />

• Anti-coercion Instrument (pending approval)<br />

• Anti-forced Labour Instrument (under negotiation)<br />

• Chips Act (pending approval)<br />

• Critical Raw Materials Act (under negotiation)<br />

• Economic Security Strategy 5<br />

It is beyond the scope of this short article to comment on the<br />

list above. It shows that EU-<strong>China</strong> relations are more than trade,<br />

less than competition. The following map illustrates the global<br />

framework. The two axes reveal how the EU considers the<br />

relations with <strong>China</strong>: “high or low political relevance and focus on<br />

deepening ties versus focus on de-risking economic ties”.<br />

The EU is placed more vis-à-vis <strong>China</strong> than the BRI project with<br />

its (vague) concept of de-risking. The opposition BRI versus<br />

Global Gateway is no longer really the issue.<br />

As the EU institutions can only act with support of Member<br />

States, initiatives launched by Brussels often set the tone and<br />

pace for actions taken in European capitals. “De-risking is the<br />

new go to mantra when direction is needed for the development<br />

of the relationship with <strong>China</strong>.<br />

Despite the progress made in finding an appropriate and updated<br />

response to the challenges and, sometimes, opportunities present<br />

in the bilateral relationship, the EU continues to struggle with<br />

developing a clear and strongly coordinated approach. Differences<br />

exist on three main axes: the traditional division between<br />

Brussels and member states, the difference between member<br />

states and finally, the differences between institutional preferences<br />

within Brussels’s institutions 6 .”<br />

As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the BRI in relation to the<br />

European Union, several points emerge. The case of Italy proves<br />

that each state acts as it sees fit, balancing trade, economic<br />

interests and political logic.<br />

Beyond Italy, in many countries including Germany and Belgium,<br />

Chinese and European companies are developing areas of<br />

cooperation and trade. This is the counterpart to a geopolitical<br />

discourse that is often too global, and sometimes too vague.<br />

Faced with the BRI, beyond the concept of Global Gateway<br />

initiative, the EU still needs to develop a consistent message and<br />

94 95

should demonstrate why its vision of the international system is<br />

also beneficial. Moreover, “there comes the question of engagement<br />

with developing economies. The Global Gateway initiative<br />

branded as the key EU’s engagement tool for boosting relations<br />

with partners from developing countries requires more robust<br />

implementation and clearer strategic messaging 7 .”<br />

On the one hand, the BRI became one more element in the game<br />

of EU-<strong>China</strong> relations, as the EU tries to counterbalance the<br />

initiative with the Global gateway program and other commitments.<br />

On the other, <strong>China</strong> develops such institutions to play<br />

where it has the hand, proposing a new development philosophy<br />

to enhance EU-<strong>China</strong> cooperation.<br />

1<br />

Official website: https://eng.yidaiyilu.gov.cn/<br />

2<br />

To know how 4 newspapers in Europe reflects the Chinese’s discourses and<br />

the content about the BRI, see Arifon, Olivier, 2021. Le récit politique chinois:<br />

soft power, communication, influence. Paris: L’Harmattan.<br />

3<br />

Tracker of the Council on Foreign Relations, database of the International<br />

Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the mapping of the Mercator Institute for<br />

<strong>China</strong> Studies (MERICS), the databases of the Green BRI Center, or the <strong>China</strong><br />

Global Investment Tracker of the American Enterprise Institute.<br />

4<br />

Galleli, B., Ghiretti, F., The Belt and Road Initiative in Italy, five case studies,<br />

Peter Lang, Bern, 2023, p. 12.<br />

5<br />

Idem, p . 12.<br />

6<br />

Source: ETNC report, p. 20.<br />

7<br />

Source: ETNC report, p. 25<br />

Belt and Road Initiative: Chinese Xiaomo Highway bridge under construction in the green jungle between Lao border town Boten<br />

and Mengla, Yunnan, <strong>China</strong><br />

Photo: Shutterstock<br />

Photo: Istock<br />

96 97






The year 2023 marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road<br />

over 98 percent, and the loaded container rate of westbound<br />

Initiative (BRI). Over the past decade, the joint construction of<br />

journey has reached 100 percent. Since the first CRE eastbound<br />

the BRI has injected new momentum into promoting common<br />

train was organized in 2014, the CRE eastbound trains have<br />

global development. Policy communication among countries has<br />

grown significantly, and the east/westbound ratio has reached<br />

become more extensive and in-depth, facility connectivity has<br />

over 85 percent. Round-trip transportation has gradually become<br />

become more accessible and smoother, trade has become more<br />

more balanced. In 2022, safety issues have been effectively con-<br />

mutually beneficial, financial integration intensity has contin-<br />

trolled, and train transportation has remained safe and stable.<br />

ued to grow, and people-to-people bonds have also achieved<br />

remarkable results.<br />

Thirdly, the supply categories have become more diversified.<br />

There are many highlights in terms of achievements and cooper-<br />

The categories of goods shipped from <strong>China</strong> to Europe have ex-<br />

ation in new fields. <strong>China</strong> Railway Express (CRE), known as the<br />

panded from the initially IT products such as mobile phones and<br />

iconic brand and flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative,<br />

computers to more than 50,000 kinds of goods in 53 categories<br />

after over ten years of development, has shifted from an era of<br />

including complete automobiles, machinery and equipment, fur-<br />

fast increasing quantity to a new phase of continuous optimi-<br />

niture and building materials, clothing, shoes and hats, electronic<br />

zation, quality upgrade, with the circle of friends and influence<br />

products and epidemic prevention materials.<br />

constantly expanding.<br />

The types of goods shipped from Europe to <strong>China</strong> have gradually<br />

As a wholly-owned subsidiary of <strong>China</strong> Railway Container Trans-<br />

expanded from formerly wood, automobiles, and spare parts to<br />

port Co., Ltd. (CRCT), the secretariat unit of the <strong>China</strong> Railway<br />

mechanical and electrical products, food, medical equipment,<br />

Express Transport Coordination Committee, CRCT Europe Logis-<br />

machinery and equipment, alcohol, etc. The annual cargo value<br />

tics GmbH was established in Duisburg, Germany in 2019. CRCT<br />

transported through CRE has increased from USD 4.8 billion in<br />

Europe, on behalf of <strong>China</strong> Railway, is responsible for the coordi-<br />

2014 to USD 67.4 billion in 2022.<br />

CRE freight trains designated by <strong>China</strong> Railway, CRCT has suc-<br />

full-timetable CRE freight trains from Xi’an to Duisburg, two-way<br />

nation, construction, operation and services of CRE in Europe.<br />

cessfully created a variety of “CRE Plus” products such as “rail-<br />

full-timetable freight trains from Duisburg to Xi’an and Chengdu<br />

Fourthly, low-carbon and green development of transportation<br />

sea combined transport” and “multimodal express” that echo<br />

to Lodz were launched, making the CRE more efficient in sched-<br />



Firstly, the number of trains continues to grow. From 2014 to<br />

2022, a total of 65,000 CRE trains have been operated, with an<br />

boast obvious advantages. Compared with air transport and sea<br />

transport, the carbon dioxide emissions of railway transport can<br />

be reduced by about 95 and 50 percent, respectively.<br />

Based on the cumulative number of CRE running 75,000 freight<br />

trains and transporting 7.15 million TEUs, CRE has replaced the<br />

with CRE freight trains, further strengthening the operation and<br />

service capacities in European standard-gauge and broad-gauge<br />

countries, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia, has further expanded<br />

the scope of the CRE organization to Japan, South Korea and<br />

other countries.<br />

ule, time efficiency with more stable and efficient services.<br />



average annual growth rate of 65 percent. From January to July<br />

transportation volume of more than 700 post-Panamax container<br />

Sixthly, CRE border channels and transportation efficiency are<br />

Firstly, smooth passages are the fundamental guarantee for the<br />

2023, CRE trains numbered 10,176, transporting 1.104 million<br />

ships (a class of vessels that exceed the maximum size param-<br />

smoother and more stable. With five freight train operating<br />

stable operation of CRE trains. Better serving international trade<br />

TEUs, a year-on-year increase of 13 and 27 percent respectively.<br />

eters set by the Panama Canal’s original locks, making them too<br />

border ports in Manzhouli, Erenhot, Alashankou, Horgos and<br />

and benefiting both the market and the participating countries<br />

At present, CRE trains are still operating at a high number, with<br />

large to transit through the canal) and reduced the corresponding<br />

Suifenhe as basis, 86 scheduled operation routes of CRE have<br />

and enterprises are the fundamental direction for the develop-<br />

more than a thousand trains per month becoming the norm.<br />

carbon emissions.<br />

been set up with three major transport corridors in the east,<br />

ment of CRE. Realistic conditions such as wide distribution, long<br />

central and west, and timely adjustments will be made to ensure<br />

mileage, and various levels of railway in Eurasia provide many<br />

Secondly, the operation quality has been steadily improved. The<br />

Fifthly, CRE freight train products and services are more mature<br />

that operating routes and capabilities better meet market needs.<br />

options for CRE operation. The transportation capacity, transpor-<br />

comprehensive loaded container rate of CRE trains has reached<br />

and reliable. As the unified operation and service platform for<br />

On the basis of the successful organization and launch of<br />

tation cost, border transshipment, customs clearance conditions,<br />

98 99

positions, gradually forming a win-win cooperation ecosystem,<br />

and has played a positive role in promoting economic and social<br />

development.<br />

CRCT Europe Logistics GmbH is currently focusing on the development<br />

of block train transportation projects for bulk items such<br />

as new energy vehicles and general chemicals, as well as special<br />

containers such as refrigerated containers and tank containers.<br />

As the number of CRE trains continues to expand, the market<br />

has higher requirements for operation and service quality.<br />

In addition, the far-reaching impacts of international situations<br />

have brought certain challenges to the development of CRE.<br />

CRCT Europe will focus on new areas of development, creating<br />

new integration points, solving problems pragmatically and<br />

effectively, and cooperating with complementary advantages. We<br />

hope that in the future, there will be more CRE products with the<br />

smoother corridors, bettered technology, more premium services,<br />

and more harmonious ecosystem.<br />

the entire route transport time efficiency and other comprehensive<br />

factors will all contribute to the comparison and selection and have achieved gratifying development results in corridor<br />

pated, increased investment, jointly consulted and constructed,<br />

of each route. CRCT is committed to expanding domestic and construction, cargo source organization, quality and efficiency<br />

overseas rail-sea combined transport and road-rail combined<br />

improvement, etc., which has also contributed positively to the<br />

transport corridors and has gradually formed a spatial layout of economic and trade exchange among the countries along the<br />

“multi-directional extension, sea and land interconnection”. CRE route.<br />

trains have reached more than 200 cities in 25 European countries,<br />

with 86 operating routes.<br />

Thirdly, win-win cooperation is the value foundation of CRE<br />

ecosystem construction. As an old Chinese saying, no matter<br />

Secondly, joint consultation and construction are an effective<br />

how far away, with support to each other, we still feel like neighbours<br />

even though thousands of miles apart.<br />

way to achieve sustainable development. As a public international<br />

transportation product, CRE are inseparable from the joint<br />

efforts of all parties involved.<br />

CRE relies on the huge Chinese market to offer broad business<br />

opportunities for European goods, providing strong transport<br />

In the course of more than ten years of development, CRCT,<br />

support for the economic and trade development of countries<br />

focusing on strengthening exchanges and cooperation with<br />

along the “Belt and Road” route countries, promoting policy<br />

domestic and foreign ports, logistics and freight forwarding<br />

communication, facility connectivity, smooth trade flow, financial<br />

companies, international institutions, has actively discussed and integration, and people-to-people connections among countries<br />

solved the problems such as information exchange, transportation<br />

orchestration, and safety guarantee of CRE with railway has brought together tens of thousands of upstream and down-<br />

along the route. Based on the value of win-win cooperation, CRE<br />

departments and agency companies in countries along the route. stream enterprises in the fields of road/rail/water transportation,<br />

The railway authorities, customs, logistics enterprises and organizations<br />

of the countries along the route have actively partici-<br />

and education, infrastructure, etc., creating plentiful new job<br />

logistics, warehousing, commerce, finance, equipment, science<br />

Photo: Istock<br />

100 101





employment. In addition, emphasis was placed on local people’s<br />

well-being in implementation of the project. The connecting road<br />

Third-party market cooperation refers to economic cooperation<br />

in the north passes through poverty-stricken urban areas where<br />

among Chinese businesses (including those in the financial sec-<br />

residents have been troubled by water and electricity shortage<br />

tor) and businesses of relevant countries in third-party markets.<br />

and poor sanitation conditions for a long time. Together with the<br />

It is an open and inclusive approach to international cooperation<br />

project owner, CRBC focused on building high-quality communi-<br />

that can help <strong>China</strong>’s business community and its international<br />

ties by providing water and electricity access for local residents,<br />

counterparts to draw upon each other’s strengths and work<br />

centralizing the disposal of domestic garbage, and building hos-<br />

together for better industrial development, infrastructure im-<br />

pitals, schools, football fields and other public facilities. All these<br />

provement and higher living standards in third countries, achiev-<br />

efforts are spoken of highly by local people.<br />

ing the effect of 1+1+1 > 3.<br />

Inspired by the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Chinese businesses<br />

have deepened their involvement in international production<br />

capacity cooperation and actively engaged in third-party market<br />

cooperation with businesses of relevant countries in recent years,<br />




based on complementary strengths of participants.<br />

In recent years, the Ecuadorian government has paid close<br />

attention to the construction of domestic housing, schools and<br />




hospitals, and introduced the Home Ownership Plan and the<br />

Millennium School Plan, with a view to improving people’s living<br />

standard through a series of projects. In an effort to improve local<br />

healthcare serices, the Ecuadorian government launched a hospital<br />

project in Guayaquil. Sinohydro Corporation Limited, a sub-<br />

Los Ceibos Hospital, with 160 specialized clinics and pathology<br />

and anatomy laboratories, can provide diagnosis, pharmacy,<br />

hospitalization, surgery, imaging, telemedicine, medical teaching<br />

undertaken by Dongfang Electric Corporation (DEC) of <strong>China</strong><br />

and Salini-Impregilo of ltaly. DEC was responsible for the supply of<br />

power generation units and related services, specifically including<br />

Located in the Mozambican capital of Maputo, the Maputo-<br />

sidiary of Power Construction Corporation of <strong>China</strong> (Power<strong>China</strong>)<br />

and other services. After the hospital was put into operation, the<br />

the design, manufacturing, transportation, installation and com-<br />

Katembe Bridge and Linkroads Project involves 187 km trunk<br />

and Spain’s Grupo Puentes Group formed a consortium to build<br />

number of hospital beds per 1,000 people in Guayaquil increased<br />

missioning of 10 Francis turbine units and all auxiliary equipment<br />

roads extending to South Africa border crossings. Construc-<br />

the project and completed it in 14 months. The construction area<br />

to 1.9, effectively alleviating shortage of local medical resources.<br />

as well as all metal structure equipment. Salini-Impregilo was<br />

tion started in June 2014, and the main body of the project<br />

of the project is 79,000 m², including six connected buildings,<br />

responsible for the civil engineering work of the project.<br />

was completed in June 2018. The bridge started operation in<br />

November 2018. As a suspension bridge with the largest main<br />

span in Africa, it was built as an EPC project by <strong>China</strong> Road and<br />

Bridge Corporation (CRBC), a subsidiary of <strong>China</strong> Communications<br />

Construction Company Limited (CCCC). GUAFF, a German<br />

engineering company, was contracted to provide such services<br />

550 beds and corresponding medical facilities.<br />





In October 2015, the first unit of the Gilgel Gibe Ⅲ hydropower<br />

station was officially connected to the grid for power generation,<br />

and the last unit was put into operation at the end of August<br />

2016. The project has doubled the installed capacity of power<br />

generation in Ethiopia to 4.245 GW, of which 44 percent is con-<br />

as design consulting, construction supervision, and quality and<br />

With the economic and social development of Ethiopia and rising<br />

tributed by the Gilgel Gibe Ⅲ hydropower station. By the end of<br />

safety control.<br />

demand for power grid construction and upgrading, Ethiopian<br />

2018, Gilgel Gibe Ⅲ had generated about 15 billion kWh of elec-<br />

Electric Power Corporation plans to further develop renewable<br />

tricity cumulatively. It has effectively alleviated power shortage in<br />

As an important route to the South Africa border in Maputo<br />

energy. The Gilgel Gibe Ⅲ project is located on the Omo River<br />

local areas, helped to boost local economy and improved peo-<br />

and areas to its south, the completion of the project reduced<br />

in southern Ethiopia. As the third stage of cascade power plants<br />

ple’s living standard, and provided Ethiopia with a large amount<br />

the sea crossing time of 2-3 hours to about 10 minutes, signif-<br />

developed on the Omo River, the Gilgel Gibe Ⅲ hydropower<br />

of electricity available for export, resulting in considerable foreign<br />

icantly increasing the level of road networking in Mozambique,<br />

station has a total installed capacity of 1.87 GW, including 10<br />

exchange earnings. During the construction of the project, DEC<br />

and promoting the development of local freight transportation,<br />

Francis turbine generating units, each with a capacity of 187 MW,<br />

conducted on-the-spot training for a large number of engineers,<br />

eco-tourism and other industries. The project has created more<br />

making it the largest hydropower plant in operation in Africa.<br />

making important contributions to the training of talents for local<br />

than 2,500 jobs for Mozambique, effectively improving local<br />

Gilgel Gibe Ⅲ is a third-party market cooperation project jointly<br />

electric power industry.<br />

102 103




In January 2016, <strong>China</strong> Export & Credit Insurance Corporation<br />

(Sinosure), Bank of <strong>China</strong> and Italy’s ENEL signed a tripartite<br />

framework agreement. According to the agreement, Sinosure<br />

and Bank of <strong>China</strong> would jointly provide up to USD 1 billion<br />

financing insurance quota to ENEL to support its purchase of<br />

Chinese equipment or cooperation with Chinese contractors or<br />

investors in renewable energy projects worldwide. By the end<br />

of 2018, Sinosure has supported Bank of <strong>China</strong> and Spain’s<br />

Santander Bank to provide financing up to USD 330 million for<br />

ENEL’s renewable energy projects in Brazil. Some projects are<br />

already in operation and providing sustainable clean energy for<br />

local residents.<br />

combines the strong production capacity of Chinese enterprises<br />

with rich experiences of Italian enterprises in local markets,<br />

combines the strengths of Chinese and European financial<br />

institutions, and offers Brazil cost-effective win-win solutions<br />

for renewable energy development.<br />

These third-party market cooperation cases are taken from the<br />

Third-Party Market Cooperation Guidelines and Cases compiled<br />

by the National Development and Reform Commission, P.R.<br />

<strong>China</strong>, in 2019.<br />

Through the integration of resources, Sinosure and ENEL embedded<br />

“financing+manufacturing” in third-party market projects,<br />

and set up a cooperation model featuring “joint development,<br />

shared benefits and balanced risks”. This cooperation model<br />

Photo: Istock<br />

104 105



Eduardo Santander<br />

Executive Director, European Travel Commission (ETC)<br />

After three years of unprecedented barriers to global mobility<br />

<strong>China</strong>’s rise as a key market for the European travel sector was<br />

caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Chinese tourists are once<br />

cast into stone when 2018 was named EU-<strong>China</strong> Tourism Year.<br />

again excited to discover the culture, history, nature and gastron-<br />

During this period, ETC embarked on an ambitious 16-month<br />

omy that makes Europe so unique. With <strong>China</strong> being such a key<br />

programme, alongside the European Commission and Chinese<br />

source market for European tourism before the pandemic, the<br />

Ministry of Culture and Tourism, to showcase the best desti-<br />

return of Chinese tourists has immense potential to contribute to<br />

nations and experiences that Europe has to offer for Chinese<br />

the full recovery of our industry. Now that tourism flows are be-<br />

tourists.<br />

ginning to return, we have a brilliant opportunity to reconnect ties<br />

between Europe and <strong>China</strong> and harness new trends in Chinese<br />

Not only that, but ETC worked as a Strategic Partner with the<br />

tourism to give our visitors the deep, authentic experiences that<br />

European Union to facilitate visas and ensure sufficient air<br />

they are looking for as they travel.<br />

connectivity. In short, ETC sought not only to promote Europe to<br />

would-be travellers but worked to improve access for Chinese<br />


travellers embarking on a journey to Europe.<br />

During the last decade, <strong>China</strong> has become an incredibly important<br />

source market for the European tourism industry, growing to<br />


become the second-largest long-haul market by 2019. Chinese<br />

And then came Covid-19, and with it the lockdowns, quarantine<br />

travellers also had comparatively high average spending habits<br />

measures and travel restrictions that put a sharp halt to tourism<br />

while travelling, meaning that they contributed significantly to<br />

flows in Europe. The pandemic obstructed global systems of<br />

Europe are still well below 2019 levels, ETC research from May<br />

Europe and East Asia have significantly increased, leading to<br />

the health and prosperity of our industry. The European Travel<br />

mobility and connectivity in ways that we had never had to deal<br />

2023 showed that 73 percent of Chinese respondents wanted to<br />

inflated prices for consumers. Re-establishing air connectivity<br />

Commission (ETC) has enjoyed a strong presence in <strong>China</strong> since<br />

with before and presented unprecedented challenges to the<br />

visit Europe this summer. As a key source market for long-haul<br />

is vital in meeting the high demand for travel from Chinese<br />

2011 when ETC founded its <strong>China</strong> Chapter.<br />

tourism industry. Many European countries closed their borders,<br />

travel, Chinese tourism has great potential to aid in the recovery<br />

consumers and facilitating the recovery of European tourism.<br />

dramatically disrupting long-haul travel to the continent for many<br />

of European tourism. We are seeing strong interest from Chinese<br />

This branch of our organisation comprises all European national<br />

tourism organisations which have offices in <strong>China</strong>, and serves as<br />

ETC’s eyes and ears in the marketplace. Over the last decade,<br />

months.<br />

ETC remained active in <strong>China</strong> even during the pandemic, pre-<br />

tourists in Europe’s culture, history and gastronomy, the full<br />

exploration of which has the power to support small businesses<br />

and attractions to enliven local communities.<br />


we have fostered close working relationships with various part-<br />

paring for a time when we could welcome Chinese tourists back<br />

It has been 12 years since we established our <strong>China</strong> Chapter,<br />

ners in the Chinese tourism sector, based on a common vision to<br />

to our shores. During Covid, we organised and took part in a<br />

Even so, the pandemic left its mark on the global tourism indus-<br />

and a lot has changed in the Chinese outbound travel market<br />

build a European tourism industry that is engaging and accessi-<br />

number of online and offline events, such as ITB <strong>China</strong> meet-ups,<br />

try. Despite a strong desire from Chinese tourists to travel<br />

since then. We are currently seeing the emergence of a new<br />

ble to Chinese tourists.<br />

the New Horizons Virtual Travel Trade Show and the ETC <strong>China</strong><br />

once again, some bureaucratic backlogs had first to be cleared,<br />

generation of Chinese tourists, who are young, intrepid and<br />

Chapter Autumn Reception. Even though travel was temporarily<br />

both in Europe and in <strong>China</strong>. Many European countries had<br />

climate-conscious. This emerging cohort is increasingly interest-<br />

Throughout our time operating in <strong>China</strong>, we have always sought<br />

suspended, we continued to showcase the uniqueness of Europe<br />

suspended normal visa operations during the pandemic, so<br />

ed in self-drive and self-guided tours, seeking out lesser-known<br />

to appreciate the uniqueness of the market and the importance<br />

to would-be travellers.<br />

extra-European travellers faced delays in obtaining the necessary<br />

destinations and engaging more authentically with local cultures.<br />

of specialising our approach to the needs and interests of<br />

paperwork to travel. Reduced air connectivity between <strong>China</strong><br />

It is not just the youth who are interested in smaller groups and<br />

Chinese travellers. Since launching our <strong>China</strong> Chapter, we have<br />

Chinese tourism began to slowly return early this year as pan-<br />

and Europe also posed a significant barrier for aspirant travellers.<br />

more customised experiences.<br />

regularly participated in events and exhibitions to connect with<br />

demic-prevention measures became less of a barrier to mobility<br />

consumers directly, as well as build business partnerships with<br />

and outbound travel products back on the market. After three<br />

OAG data shows that <strong>China</strong>’s international airline capacity for<br />

Chinese travel agents report that the most popular travel<br />

local enterprises. We have also worked with Chinese influences<br />

years of the pandemic, Chinese tourists are hungry to explore,<br />

August 2023 was still at only 50 percent of August 2019 levels.<br />

products sold now are smaller group tours with less than<br />

to help us connect with potential travellers in a more personal<br />

with European destinations at the top of the list for a large<br />

Furthermore, since Russian airspace was closed to European<br />

10 participants and that there is growing interest in experiencing<br />

setting.<br />

proportion of would-be travellers. Though Chinese arrivals to<br />

carriers at the start of the war in Ukraine, flight times between<br />

Europe in a more flexible, personalised way. Sustainability is<br />

106 107

gaining prominence in <strong>China</strong>, and tourists of all backgrounds are<br />

increasingly looking for sustainable options at each stage of their<br />

travel journey.<br />

excellent opportunities for networking and facilitating direct contact<br />

between suppliers in Europe and partners and consumers in<br />

<strong>China</strong>.<br />

This new Chinese traveller offers a perfect opportunity to promote<br />

a more sustainable model of Chinese tourism in Europe,<br />

one that encourages slower travel and deeper engagement with<br />

local communities. This will give rise to a healthy symbiosis between<br />

travellers and their hosts whereby visitors experience the<br />

local customs and traditions that make their destination unique,<br />

all the while supporting small businesses and preserving cultural<br />

heritage.<br />



We are working to strengthen our existing relationships and create<br />

new partnerships in <strong>China</strong> so as to continue to capture this<br />

momentum. We are especially grateful for the warm reception<br />

that we have received from our Chinese partners, who have been<br />

very open to further collaboration and exchanges post-Covid.<br />

We cooperate closely with the <strong>World</strong> Tourism Alliance (WTA), with<br />

whom we signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2019, and<br />

the Global Tourism Economy Forum.<br />

ETC is glad to see travellers from <strong>China</strong> fully embracing the cultural<br />

and geographic diversity which makes Europe so special.<br />

To engage with this interest, we at ETC are pivoting our marketing<br />

strategy to one that puts individuals’ interests above purely<br />

volume-driven promotion. We want visitors to Europe to find the<br />

experiences that inspired them to travel in the first place, as so<br />

now promote thematic travel, connecting European destinations<br />

by themes such as culture, history or nature, rather than subdividing<br />

them purely by country or region.<br />

A key part of fostering sustainable tourism is encouraging travellers<br />

to explore lesser-known destinations. Over-tourism has<br />

become a major issue in some European cities, where immense<br />

appeal to travellers has come at the expense of local customs,<br />

living costs, natural resources and biodiversity. It is brilliant to see<br />

that Chinese travellers are becoming more and more interested in<br />

seeing beyond the tourist hotspots and exploring off-the-beatentrack.<br />

ETC is working with our partners in <strong>China</strong> and Europe to harness<br />

this budding interest and introduce would-be tourists to some<br />

lesser-known destinations in emerging tourist markets around<br />

Europe. This year, three of the eighteen organisations that ETC<br />

co-exhibited with at ITB <strong>China</strong> hailed from Montenegro, one of<br />

the only destinations that has recorded more arrivals from <strong>China</strong><br />

this year than it did in 2019. Data on arrivals this year show that<br />

Serbia is emerging as a new favourite among Chinese travellers,<br />

partially due to the country’s relaxed visa requirements for travellers<br />

from <strong>China</strong>.<br />

I am proud to represent both of these organisations as a Vice<br />

President. This November ETC will co-organise with WTA an<br />

EU-<strong>China</strong> Tourism Dialogue, which will take place in parallel with<br />

the “WTA Xianghu Dialogue”. We anticipate that this will be an<br />

excellent forum for ETC members to network and collaborate<br />

with their counterparts in <strong>China</strong>.<br />

It is clear that the Chinese market is changing as tourists increasingly<br />

look for opportunities to travel more sustainably and<br />

flexibly. It is up to us as an industry to provide ways for travellers<br />

to make smart choices at every step of their journey, enriching<br />

local communities and supporting the future of European tourism<br />

as they explore our amazing continent.<br />

At ETC, we believe that the best way to harness that change is to<br />

collaborate with our partners in Europe and in <strong>China</strong>, forging new<br />

connections and facilitating exchanges between our members<br />

and their Chinese counterparts. It is only when we work together<br />

that we can take hold of the future of Europe-Chinese tourism.<br />

There is also a lot that we can do in Europe to prepare small<br />

businesses for the return and regeneration of Chinese tourism.<br />

ETC has worked in numerous ways over the last ten years to<br />

support European stakeholders and their cooperation with<br />

Chinese partners. Just as before the pandemic, we committed<br />

to holding and participating in B2B events such as matchmaking<br />

campaigns, trade fairs, and FAM (familiarization) trips, providing<br />

Photo: Istock<br />

Photo: Istock<br />

108 109





Eric Dresin, Secretary General,<br />

The European Travel Agents’ and tour Operators’<br />

Associations (ECTAA)<br />

The global tourism industry has undergone significant transfor-<br />

portion of the international tourism market and their return can<br />

mations in recent years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has tested<br />

significantly boost the European economy.<br />

its resilience like never before. In this new environment, the<br />

European tourism market is experiencing a renaissance, with<br />

Beside these economic and financial dimension, sustainability<br />

an emphasis on sustainability and an eye on welcoming both<br />

is another important parameter that will define the way travel<br />

European and Chinese travellers. Indeed as we emerge from this<br />

will develop. The importance of sustainable travel and tourism<br />

crisis, one of the keys to revitalizing the European tourism sector<br />

cannot be overstated in our era of environmental consciousness.<br />

lies in the hands of Chinese tourists. The importance of this<br />

Sustainability is thus a growing concern in the global tourism<br />

demographic cannot be overstated, as they have the potential<br />

industry, and both Europe and <strong>China</strong> are committed to promoting<br />

to strengthen cultural ties, drive economic growth, and promote<br />

eco-friendly and responsible travel.<br />

sustainable travel between Europe and <strong>China</strong>.<br />

This presents an opportunity for sustainable tourism coopera-<br />

Europe has long been a favourite destination for travellers world-<br />

tion between the two markets. Europe has been making strides<br />

wide, renowned for its rich history, diverse cultures, and stunning<br />

in promoting sustainable travel options, such as eco-friendly<br />

From the awe-inspiring Great Wall to the picturesque countryside<br />

times, expanding visa-free travel agreements, and enhancing the<br />

landscapes. The latest figures of the European tourism market<br />

accommodations, electric transportation, and green initiatives<br />

of Yangshuo, <strong>China</strong> has something to offer every type of traveller.<br />

ease of obtaining visas.<br />

show that travellers are eager to once again explore iconic<br />

in popular tourist areas. Chinese tourists can contribute to this<br />

European tourists have the opportunity to explore a world of<br />

cities like Paris, Rome, and Barcelona, soak in the beauty of the<br />

movement by embracing eco-friendly practices during their<br />

culinary delights, ancient traditions, and modern innovation with-<br />

Secondly, improving air travel connections between <strong>China</strong> and<br />

Mediterranean, and embark on adventures in the Alps. The return<br />

travels.<br />

in a single country.<br />

Europe is essential. This involves increasing the number of direct<br />

of Chinese travellers to Europe signifies a return to normalcy,<br />

flights, opening new routes, and promoting competitive pricing to<br />

instilling confidence in the safety and attractiveness of European<br />

Collaborating with Chinese tour operators to educate travel-<br />

The potential for long-term growth in travel between Europe<br />

make air travel more accessible. However, unexpected develop-<br />

destinations.<br />

lers about these options can contribute to responsible tourism.<br />

and <strong>China</strong> is immense. The enduring appeal of historic cities,<br />

ment is the war in Ukraine altered the existing routes making the<br />

Encouraging cultural exchanges and promoting a better under-<br />

cultural treasures, and breathtaking landscapes is a magnet for<br />

flight of European air carriers longer and more expensive. Let’s<br />

Chinese tourists have been increasingly drawn to European<br />

standing of sustainability practices in both regions can lead to<br />

tourists seeking enriching experiences in both regions. As the<br />

hope that when a quick resolution of this conflict.<br />

destinations in recent years. This trend is expected to continue<br />

mutually beneficial partnerships. Joint conservation efforts for<br />

Chinese middle class continues to grow, so does the potential for<br />

and even accelerate in the post-pandemic era. Europe’s deep<br />

natural sites, wildlife protection, and reducing the environmental<br />

increased tourism between Europe and <strong>China</strong>. Simultaneously,<br />

Thirdly, developing and maintaining tourism infrastructure,<br />

history, diverse cultures, and world-famous landmarks hold<br />

impact of tourism can be a focus of cooperation.<br />

Europe can learn from <strong>China</strong>’s innovative approaches to tourism<br />

such as transportation networks, accommodations, and tourist<br />

immense appeal for Chinese tourists seeking a rich cultural<br />

and enhance its own offerings.<br />

attractions, to accommodate a growing number of tourists and<br />

experience. Similarly breathtaking natural beauty or high-end<br />

Both European and Chinese governments, along with tourism<br />

providing them with a positive experience is essential. As already<br />

shopping districts cater to the nature and luxury-loving Chinese<br />

stakeholders, can collaborate on educational campaigns to raise<br />

Increasing the flow of tourists between <strong>China</strong> and Europe is a<br />

explaining however, this has to integrate new sustainable tourism<br />

tourists. Finally, Europe boasts a treasure trove of historical sites<br />

awareness about responsible tourism practices.<br />

goal that can benefit both regions economically and culturally.<br />

practices. Implementing eco-friendly initiatives might prove to<br />

and world-class art museums, making it a dream destination for<br />

However, several bottlenecks need to be addressed to facilitate<br />

more complex than expected.<br />

history buffs and art lovers.<br />

<strong>China</strong> is not just a source of outbound tourists but also an ex-<br />

this growth.<br />

traordinary tourism destination in its own right. With its ancient<br />

Finally, providing convenient and secure payment options, such<br />

While Europe seeks to attract Chinese tourists, it is also impor-<br />

history, vibrant cities, and stunning natural landscapes, <strong>China</strong><br />

Firstly, simplifying and streamlining the visa application process<br />

as digital payment platforms that Chinese tourists are familiar<br />

tant not to forget the significance of welcoming European trav-<br />

offers a diverse range of experiences for European travelers.<br />

for Chinese tourists can significantly is essential. the European<br />

with, can enhance the ease of transactions during their travels.<br />

ellers back to the continent. Europeans constitute a substantial<br />

<strong>China</strong>’s tourism offerings are as diverse as its vast landscape.<br />

tourism sector is calls for a long time for reducing processing<br />

Addressing these bottlenecks will require collaboration and<br />

110 111

coordination between governments, tourism boards, airlines,<br />

tour operators, hospitality providers, and various stakeholders in<br />

both <strong>China</strong> and Europe. By working together to overcome these<br />

challenges, both regions can tap into the immense potential of<br />

increased tourism and foster stronger cultural and economic ties.<br />

In conclusion, travel has long been a powerful tool for connecting<br />

people from different backgrounds and cultures. It fosters mutual<br />

understanding, breaks down stereotypes, and creates lasting<br />

bonds between nations. Chinese tourists, who have shown a<br />

growing interest in exploring Europe’s rich tapestry of cultures,<br />

play a vital role in promoting this global harmony.<br />

Chinese tourists hold the key to revitalizing the European tourism<br />

industry and forging stronger cultural connections between East<br />

and West. As the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic,<br />

it is crucial to seize the opportunity to rebuild the tourism sector<br />

with sustainability in mind. By welcoming Chinese travellers with<br />

open arms and promoting responsible tourism practices, Europe<br />

can look forward to a prosperous future of cultural exchange,<br />

economic growth, and a deeper understanding between nations.<br />

Together, Europe and <strong>China</strong> can lead the way in reshaping the<br />

global travel landscape for the better.<br />

Photo: Istock<br />

112 113<br />

Photo: Istock



Nestled at the crossroads of history, culture and trade, the city<br />

of Kashgar, also known as Kashi, in <strong>China</strong>’s Xinjiang Uyghur<br />

Autonomous Region, has been a jewel on the Silk Road for<br />

over two millennia. Fortunate enough to have roamed its storied<br />

streets, I can testify how the past and present coalesce in a<br />

harmonious tapestry in this bustling oasis.<br />

Kashgar finds its place in the westernmost reaches of the Tarim<br />

Basin. It is, in fact, the most western major city in <strong>China</strong>. Bordere<br />

by Krygyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and nourished<br />

by three rivers – Kashgar, Gezdarya and Hantereksu – the<br />

city is enveloped by the Tien Shan Mountains to the north, the<br />

Kun-Lun Mountains to the south and the Pamir Mountains to the<br />

west, while to the east lies the Taklamakan Desert.<br />

While the climate is relatively arid, the loess and alluvial soils give<br />

Kashgar some of the most fertile lands in all of Xinjiang, yielding<br />

a diverse range of crops such as wheat, maize, barley and rice.<br />

Additionally, the oasis is renowned for its orchards, bearing fruits<br />

like melons, grapes, peaches, apricots and pomegranate.<br />


Positioned at the crossroads of the northern and southern<br />

branches of the Silk Road, merchants and travelers from Asia<br />

and Europe converged in Kashgar 2,100 years ago. Whether they<br />

crossed the Pamirs from the west or traversed the Taklamakan<br />

Desert to the east, Kashgar was their ideal rest stop and trade<br />

hub. This melding of influences is evident in the city’s architecture,<br />

a mesmerizing blend of Central Asian charm and traces<br />

of ancient Roman aesthetics.<br />

This enduring legacy has earned Kashgar the title of a millennium-old<br />

city, embodying the essence of Uyghur folk customs,<br />

culture, art, architecture and traditional economy.<br />


Margarida Almeida<br />

Travel Tomorrow<br />

recent years. Large-scale reconstruction started in 2009, aiming<br />

to modernize the area for tourism, improving the living conditions<br />

of locals and addressing safety concerns in the event of an<br />

earthquake. After the Wenchuan Earthquake on May 12, 2008,<br />

the Autonomous Region put the transformation of the old town<br />

at the top of the agenda. The project involved the renovation of<br />

nearly 50,000 households with a total investment of more than<br />

7 billion yuan (about EUR 900 million).<br />

A visit to the Kashi Old City Comprehensive Protection and<br />

Management Memorial Hall was a great way to get an insight of<br />

what the city looked like before the renovation, why the necessity<br />

for such a deep transformation arose, as well as how the project<br />

was implemented.<br />

The ambitious project has yielded a “new” Old City, a fusion of<br />

old-world charm and contemporary convenience. A labyrinth of<br />

winding streets gave place to a blend of mid-rise apartments,<br />

spacious plazas, larger avenues, in a style that recreates the<br />

ancient Islamic architecture. Even so, a lot of small lanes still<br />

criss-cross the Old City and the charm behind getting lost while<br />

exploring all the small alleys filled with mud-thatched buildings<br />

still lies there. Vibrant walls, graceful round arches, exquisitely<br />

crafted doors and ornate windows provide an enchanting backdrop<br />

for photography endeavours.<br />

With the rise of tourism to the city it is uncertain to determine<br />

how many people live here. A lot of the homeowners live outside<br />

of the city, using their homes for tourism purposes and businesses,<br />

like traditional local houses open for visitors to step in<br />

and enjoy tea, singing and dancing, and store fronts, which they<br />

operate.<br />

Beyond its architectural allure, the Old City boasts a variety of<br />

distinctive shops lining its streets, each offering a unique theme.<br />

The bazaar culture in Kashgar is impressive and after being<br />

remodelled, the Old City is a vast example of it, serving as a<br />

testament to the vibrant folk crafts and art of the Uyghur, at,<br />

among others, the Cantuman Bazaar (Blacksmith Street), Dopa<br />

Bazaar (Flower & Hat Street), Flowerpot Bazaar, Gourmet Bazaar,<br />

Handcraft Bazaar and Pottery Bazaar.<br />

Furthermore, vendors peddling delectable local snacks, such<br />

as succulent grapes, Nang (Uyghur bread, more widely known<br />

as naan bread) and tantalizing goat milk ice cream, provide a<br />

delightful culinary experience amid shopping adventures. One<br />

cannot visit Kashgar without sampling the local delicacies and,<br />

in particular, the beloved pomegranate.<br />

The Uyghur people have an innate talent for music and dance,<br />

which is showcased in the city’s traditional musical instrument<br />

shops.<br />

Strolling through the Old City streets, you will witness elderly<br />

individuals basking in the sun while children frolic about. It might<br />

be a rebuilt city, but the enduring authenticity of its people, cuisine,<br />

clothing and language is a testament to their commitment<br />

to preserving their rich history and they make Kashgar Old City<br />

an embodiment of tradition and heritage.<br />


One of Kashgar’s main tourist attractions is the Id Kah Mosque,<br />

an architectural marvel that holds the distinction of being the<br />

largest mosque in all of <strong>China</strong>. It was built in 1442 by order of<br />

the then-Governor of the city, Shakessimirdzhi, and its name in<br />

Persian means “festive”.<br />

With an area of 16,800 square meters and an impressive capacity<br />

for up to 20,000 worshippers, the mosque’s intricate design,<br />

yellow-glazed tiles and graceful minarets reflect its Central Asian<br />

influence.<br />

The Old City in Kashgar spans approximately 2 kilometres in<br />

both length and width and has undergone significant changes in<br />

During holidays, the Id Kah Mosque transforms into a pilgrimage<br />

site, drawing in an astounding 100,000 devoted believers.<br />

114 115

The mosque’s aesthetic charm extends to its three minarets; two<br />

grace the corners of the entrance arch, while the third stands tall<br />

above the central dome. Within the mosque’s interior, an elegant<br />

simplicity prevails. A central wall, serving as a metaphorical<br />

“throne”, provides a focal point for the Imam to lead the congregation<br />

in prayer.<br />

Given its status as an active place of worship, our tour, such as<br />

others, was conducted during inter-prayer intervals. We were<br />

lucky enough to be guided through by Mamat Juma, the Iman of<br />

the mosque himself.<br />

Kashgar, with its rich tapestry of history and culture, invites<br />

visitors to step into a living time machine. It is a city where the<br />

echoes of the Silk Road still reverberate, where the past and<br />

present coexist in harmony and where the enduring spirit of<br />

heritage continues to captivate the hearts of those who journey<br />

to this timeless corner of Xinjiang.<br />

Photos: Margarita Almeida (except otherwise indicated)<br />

Kashgar, <strong>China</strong> Famous Hundred Year Old Tea House with Uyghur People Playing Guitar at the Terrace on a Sunny Blue Sky Day<br />

116 117<br />

Photo: Shutterstock




Margarida Almeida<br />

Travel Tomorrow<br />

9:37 am: the high-speed train departs from Ürümqi station,<br />

heading 167 km southeast of the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur<br />

Autonomous Region. We arrived in Turpan approximately one<br />

hour later, hopping on the bus to the ancient city of Jiaohe (Yar<br />

City), in the Yarnaz Valley, 10 km west of Turpan.<br />

Nestled within the rugged landscape of Xinjiang, lies an archaeological<br />

gem that transports visitors through the annals of history.<br />

The Jiaohe Ruins, perched atop a plateau overlooking the Turpan<br />

Basin, whisper tales of a civilization that thrived against the<br />

harshest of natural elements. At 154 meters below sea level, this<br />

is the lowest elevated city in <strong>China</strong> and the second-lowest place<br />

on Earth after the Dead Sea.<br />

I was eager to start the journey uphill into the ruins. Stepping<br />

into the largest, one of the oldest and best-preserved earth<br />

building city in the world, one can’t help but be captivated by the<br />

city’s history and its enduring importance, that stretches back<br />

thousands of years. On June 22, 2014, Yar City was added to the<br />

UNESCO <strong>World</strong> Heritage List, during the 38th UNESCO <strong>World</strong><br />

Heritage Committee gathering held in Doha, Qatar.<br />

While the ancient city of Jiaohe boasted several entry and exit<br />

points in the past, today, the sole entrance lies in the southwest<br />

corner of the plateau, accessible via a ramp leading up into the<br />

city. And thus, from there we started hillwalking.<br />

The city is situated within the Yamariz River Oasis, to the north<br />

of the Turpan Basin, and at the southern foothills of the eastern<br />

Tian-shan Mountains. Bordered by the Yemushitage (Yanshan)<br />

Mountain to the south, it occupies an elevated terrace, 30 meters<br />

above the riverbed, encircled by the natural defences of two<br />

river branches. The swiftly flowing waters carved out steep cliffs<br />

creating an impenetrable city wall that encases the ruins. The<br />

distinctive terrace, resembling the shape of a willow leaf, extends<br />

from the northwest to the southeast, measuring 1,750 meters<br />

in length and 300 meters at its widest point, encompassing an<br />

expansive area of 37.6 hectares.<br />

Having arrived in <strong>China</strong> in mid-September, the temperature<br />

soared with the midday sun blazing us at 34°C and the parched<br />

earth beneath my feet radiated heat through my thick rubber sole<br />

boots. I quickly learned that Turpan is one of the hottest places in<br />

<strong>China</strong>, where it goes by the nickname “Huo Zhou”, which means<br />

“a place as hot as fire”.<br />

With summer temperatures often exceeding 40°C, the average<br />

yearly temperature is actually 14°C, which shows that this<br />

incredibly dry area has a large daily, as well as annual, temperature<br />

difference. Shade is a precious commodity while touring<br />

the ruins, so our guides made sure water bottles were constant<br />

companions.<br />


At a first glance from a distance, the ruins of Jiaohe seem to<br />

resemble natural geological formations rather than the work of<br />

human hands. Yet, upon approaching them, it becomes clear<br />

that these structures were once inhabited by a thriving community<br />

– specifically, Buddhist residents, as the presence of Buddhist<br />

temples is unmistakable.<br />

Photo: Margarida Almeida<br />

Turpan, Xinjiang, <strong>China</strong>- Mar 13: Jiaohe Ancient City on Mar 13 2023 in Turpan, Xinjiang, <strong>China</strong>. It is the largest, oldest, and<br />

most well preserved raw earth architectural city in the world.<br />

Over the course of time, the city of Jiaohe experienced both a<br />

decline in power and an erosion of its once-magnificent beauty.<br />

However, in the middle of the 9th century, a renaissance of sorts<br />

occurred when the Uyghur people rebuilt and reoccupied the<br />

city. Buddhism, the predominant religion among the Uyghur until<br />

the eventual ascent of Islam in the following centuries, played a<br />

central role in the life of Jiaohe. This enduring influence is palpable<br />

through the remnants of monasteries and the serene stupa<br />

grove that still grace the landscape today.<br />

The city was meticulously designed around a north-south<br />

avenue, where various functional districts were laid out in a<br />

well-organized manner on either side. The community that lived<br />

in Jiaohe was diverse, including merchants, craftsmen and religious<br />

leaders. The long central street bisected the city, effectively<br />

dividing it into two distinct sections. The western portion was<br />

designated for the common people, while the eastern part was<br />

reserved for the residencies of the ruling elite.<br />

The city encompassed the Residential District, Warehouse District,<br />

Administrative District, Temple District, Tomb District, and<br />

the expansive Large Courtyard District. Beyond the city limits,<br />

sprawling cemeteries, which date back to the Jushi Kingdom and<br />

the Jin and Tang dynasties (from the 1st century BC to the 10th<br />

century AD), can be found flanking the northern and western<br />

edges of the elevated terrace, spanning over 2 square kilometres.<br />

Among these ancient dwellings, many featured a unique architectural<br />

design with two stories, one rising above the ground and<br />

the other concealed beneath it, allowing for exploration into the<br />

subterranean basements of certain structures. Locals excavated<br />

the terrain to create enduring structures and subterranean<br />

chambers, while the excavated soil was used to construct rooms<br />

above ground.<br />

The subterranean chambers offered a refuge from the relentless<br />

desert sun in summer and the biting winds of winter. The<br />

above-ground rooms served as living quarters and kitchens. The<br />

residences were built using a variety of materials, including mud<br />

bricks and wood. The walls were up to 10 meters high and 12<br />

meters thick and were built using a technique called “rammed<br />

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earth”.<br />

Photo: Shutterstock

The relentless desert sun casts intriguing shadows upon the<br />

intricately carved structures, creating an ever-shifting tapestry of<br />

light and shade. The subterranean chambers offer a refreshing<br />

respite from the scorching heat, a glimpse into the architectural<br />

ingenuity of the past, and a chance to appreciate the cool serenity<br />

that must have once enveloped these spaces.<br />

The city’s urban planning echoes Central <strong>China</strong>’s administrative<br />

districts and the arrangement of dwellings along roads and<br />

side streets. Simultaneously, its alignment of the main temple<br />

entrance, central avenue and south city gate along the city axis,<br />

as well as the construction of the Northeast Buddhist Temple and<br />

the secondary road along the city’s other axis, mirrors the layout<br />

of Central Asian cities.<br />


Yar City provides an invaluable window into the evolution and exchange<br />

of urban cultures, construction techniques, the diffusion<br />

of Buddhism, and the rich tapestry of multi-ethnic cultures that<br />

thrived along this ancient trade route.<br />

The city’s layout and its diverse ruins constructed with varying<br />

techniques bear witness to the extensive cultural exchange that<br />

occurred between Central <strong>China</strong>, the Western Region and Middle<br />

Asia. Icons like the central Buddhist Pagoda, the Grand Buddhist<br />

Temple and the Forest of Stupas illuminate the transmission and<br />

flourishing of Buddhism within the Turpan Basin.<br />

The use of rammed earth as a traditional building technique,<br />

recessing structures into the ground akin to cave dwellings in<br />

Shaanxi and Gansu, and the “stacked mud” method prevalent<br />

during the Qocho Uyghur period and still employed in Xinjiang<br />

today, all converge within the Jiaohe ruins.<br />

Continuing to build on the Silk Road’s legacy of bridging cultures,<br />

10 years ago, <strong>China</strong> launched the Silk Road Economic Belt<br />

Initiative, now called the Belt and Road Initiative. To celebrate the<br />

achievements of the past decade and chart the way forward, a<br />

third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation is being<br />

held in Beijing today and tomorrow.<br />

Jiaohe Ancient City is the largest, oldest, and most well preserved raw earth architectural city in the world, as well as the most<br />

complete urban relic preserved for over 2000 years in <strong>China</strong>.<br />

Photo: Shutterstock<br />

Ruins of ancient Jiaohe city, Turpan, <strong>China</strong>. Dating more than 2000 years, Gaochang and Jiaohe are the oldest and largest ruins in Xinjiang.<br />

Photo: Shutterstock<br />


FORCE<br />

As a visitor walking through the ancient ruins, you are transported<br />

to an era when bustling streets, ornate temples, and residential<br />

quarters thrived within the protective embrace of this desert<br />

fortress.<br />

With each step along the well-preserved paths, you can imagine<br />

the daily life of the city’s inhabitants — families residing in<br />

multi-story houses, traders haggling in marketplaces and monks<br />

tending to their spiritual pursuits in serene temples. The ancient<br />

city layout, marked by meticulous urban planning, beckons you<br />

to explore its residential, administrative, and religious districts.<br />

Yet, as you tread carefully on the designated pathways, you’ll<br />

also witness the ongoing battle between time and preservation.<br />

Since its decline, the remnants of the city have gradually<br />

succumbed to decay. Today, the site faces formidable natural<br />

challenges: relentless gusts of wind carrying dust and sand<br />

that scour the walls and flood the streets and courtyards.<br />

The erosion of the cliffs by floodwaters, posing an imminent<br />

risk of collapse, stands as the most pressing and severe threat to<br />

these historic ruins.<br />

The need to safeguard these ancient treasures has led to the<br />

establishment of paved routes and watchful eyes of surveillance<br />

cameras, ensuring that the city’s history endures for generations<br />

to come.<br />

As I gazed upon the ancient ruins, I found myself entranced<br />

by the enchanting scene before me. The azure sky framed the<br />

distant mountains, adding an aura of mystique to the ancient<br />

remnants that stood resilient under the scorching sun.<br />

And thinking of the powerful creativity and resourcefulness of<br />

ancient people, embracing the weather conditions and strategically<br />

building this giant ancient sculpture on these grounds,<br />

I couldn’t help but admire how Jiaohe is an exceptional illustration<br />

of human resilience and of humanity’s symbiotic relationship<br />

with nature.<br />

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Photo: Istock

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