Ashton says EU-China ties closer than ever

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-4-25 16:45:21

European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she was looking forward to meeting with China's new leadership to boost the EU-China relations, which was currently closer and stronger than ever.

In a written interview with Xinhua on the eve of her fourth China visit from Thursday to Sunday, Ashton said this visit was "particularly meaningful" as it coincided with the 10th anniversary of the establishment of EU-China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

"Since the establishment of the EU-China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2003, EU-China relations have become closer and stronger than ever," said Ashton, "I am confident that, under the new Chinese leadership, the EU and China will continue to enhance joint efforts to promote peace and security through an effective multilateral system."

The EU top diplomat said she was looking forward to taking forward EU-China partnership for the coming decade, including in areas of key interest to both sides: security and defense, trade and investment, urbanization, environmental protection, human rights and people-to-people exchanges.

"The EU is convinced of the importance of enhancing the EU-China relationship to address global challenges and to remain a major source of prosperity for all," she said.

During her China visit, Ashton said she would discuss the preparation of the EU-China summit foreseen this autumn, as well the next round of EU-China Strategic Dialogue and a range of international and regional issues.

TACKLING GLOBAL ISSUS Ashton said that the EU-China Strategic Partnership needs to address issues of global significance, such as in the fields of nuclear non-proliferation, arms control, crisis management, nuclear safety and security, energy security, climate change, food and water security, disaster risk management and relief, as well as maritime issues.

"In a globalized world, the political and economic interests of both the EU and China stretch far beyond their own neighborhoods," she said.

"From this perspective, the EU is working closely with China and other partners in the region in support of peace, security and the integration process of Asia."

Ashton also called on China to assume "the role of a relevant and responsible global player" as its political clout is increasing thanks to continued economic development.

The EU and China share interests in achieving a more efficient and transparent rules-based international system, enhancing the effectiveness of the United Nations (UN) system and promoting the rebalancing of global growth within the framework of G20, she said.

As for the rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula, Ashton said the bloc and China shared the goal of denuclearization, and recent UN Security Council resolutions on Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) had shown progress in EU-China cooperation.

"We want to work closely with China in supporting a resumption of a credible dialogue with the DPRK, which is essential for the country to return to the international community," she said.


While Doha Round talks have been stalled in the World Trade Organization, Ashton said the next best option for the EU is to working on bilateral deals with major trading partners.

"Apart from giving a much-needed stimulus to economic growth, a trade agreement between the EU and the US could breathe life back into the multilateral negotiations," she said, claiming that "it could also be a boost to setting global standards from which everyone would benefit."

With regards to the EU-China trade ties, Ashton said the EU and Chinese leaders had decided to launch investment negotiations as soon as possible during their summit last year.

"We do not exclude the idea of a Free Trade Agreement at some stage in the future, but the priority now is investment: we need to conclude an ambitious investment agreement first and then take things from there." She added.

Posted in: Diplomacy, Europe

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