Xi, Merkel phone call 'timely to stabilize ties'
Published: Apr 07, 2021 10:55 PM Updated: Apr 08, 2021 12:29 AM
China EU. Photo: VCG

China EU. Photo: VCG

Although China and the EU have encountered some problems recently due to the impact from issues like human rights and stigmatization against China over Xinjiang-related issues, the leaders of China and Germany, also a major power within the EU, spoke on the phone on Wednesday, with experts saying this is a "timely conversation to stabilize China-Germany and China-EU ties" and to prevent interruption from the US.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday urged Germany and the EU to make joint efforts with China to protect and promote the healthy and stable development of their cooperation to bring more certainty and stability to the volatile world, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

Xi made the remarks in a phone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Analysts viewed the conversation between Xi and Merkel as timely, especially as China-EU relations have become strained after the EU imposed sanctions on Chinese officials and an entity over alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang, to which China fought back with its own sanctions on EU individuals and entities,  with many worrying that the China-EU Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) will be jeopardized.

Noting that China-EU relations are facing new opportunities as well as various challenges, Xi said that the key is to keep to the general direction and keynote of China-EU relations from a strategic perspective, respect each other and remove distractions.

Xi said China's development has been an opportunity for the EU and urged the EU to make a correct judgment independently and truly achieve strategic autonomy.

Merkel said in the phone call with Xi that the EU insists on independence in foreign affairs. The world is facing many problems and challenges, so Germany-China and EU-China cooperation are more needed, Xinhua reported.

Wang Yiwei, director of the Center for European Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Wednesday that both leaders spoke of Europe's strategic autonomy, which means avoiding US interference and properly dealing with internal dissent within the EU over the China policy.

Xi said China stands ready to work with the EU to ensure the success of a series of important political agenda for the next stage through consultations, deepen and expand practical cooperation across the board, strengthen communication on climate change and other global governance issues, and jointly practice multilateralism.

Germany has attached great importance to China's 14th Five-Year Plan, and hopes this will bring new opportunities for Germany-China and EU-China cooperation. Germany is willing to work with China to… restart mobility of the people, to enhance cooperation on handling COVID-19, climate change, and biological diversity, Merkel said, according to Xinhua. 

Germany's attitude is a reassurance for China-EU Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, although the US will continue to try to destroy CAI, and the EU may cooperate with US diplomacy on "values and human rights" to a certain extent to show that the EU is also a major geopolitical player, Wang said.

Wang noted that the CAI is still in the process of text translation and indexing, and the spat over human rights triggered by disinformation and stigmatization against China's Xinjiang cannot preclude China-EU cooperation on other issues.

Merkel stressed that Germany would like to work with China to prepare for a new round of Germany-China government consultations, according to Xinhua.  

Wang said this indicates that the EU has expectations for practical cooperation with China, and also shows that Germany views China-EU ties in a comprehensive way and will not be confused by noise, Wang said. 

The CAI is needed not only by China, but also by the EU. The EU is very happy that China has given them open fields, such as information, new energy, insurance and finance, which will promote the EU's position in China-US-EU triangular ties, with the three players being the three major forces of globalization, Wang said.

Germany has always been the leader of the EU, and Merkel is a veteran politician. Germany's attitude would have a positive effect on France and the rest of Europe, Chinese experts said.