Understanding China-EU cooperation with rational mind

By Su Tan Source:Global Times Published: 2018/5/20 22:58:39

Angela Merkel is set to visit China May 24-25 in her 11th visit as German chancellor. Issues such as market access and intellectual property are reportedly high on her agenda when she meets Chinese leaders, and multilateralism will also be discussed amid the rising tide of global trade protectionism and upheaval in international rules.

Before China, Merkel visited the US in late April, but she failed to win over US President Donald Trump over their tensions on the trade row and Washington's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. As German-US relations falter, some Chinese media said that Merkel is now turning to China for help.

This view, which looks appealing to people who take pride in a stronger China, has in fact adopted a wrong perspective on China's relations with Germany and in a broader sense, China's role as a major power. Today relations between countries are more complicated than simply two countries uniting against another.

Over the past 46 years, China and Germany have built complementary cooperation out of their common needs for development. Their trade volume makes up almost one-third of China-EU trade. The two countries have established nearly 80 cooperative mechanisms on a wide range of areas. The huge Chinese market is attractive for German companies, but meanwhile China also needs advanced German technology in manufacturing, innovation and environmental protection. The two have had ups and downs in their ties and differences on issues, but they have more of a common interest in cooperating.

With dramatic changes taking place in the world, China and Germany, two important members of the international community, have to work together to safeguard the international order and rules that have benefited the world over the past decades. This is needed by both sides, not one side asking help from the other.

This also applies to China's relations with Europe. Although Europe is grappling with a multitude of problems like terrorism, the refugee crisis, Brexit and its declining clout, it still carries weight in the international community. To fulfill its responsibilities as a major country, China needs Europe's cooperation on regional and global affairs such as climate change, counter-terrorism and global governance. This gets more important given the political upheaval triggered by Washington.

As China grows stronger economically and has a bigger say in the international community, more countries seek cooperation with China. In today's world where countries are entwined in each other's interests, more cooperation is a natural outcome and on an equal basis. In this process, mutual respect is essential while a condescending view must be abandoned.  

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