On the morning of December 3, 2004, Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui held a briefing for journalists from home and abroad and information officers of foreign embassies in China at the invitation of the International Press Center (IPC), introducing to them Premier Wen Jiabao's attending the upcoming Seventh China-EU Summit and his formal visit to the Netherlands. Director-General of the Information Department Kong Quan chaired the briefing.
Zhang first of all introduced the current development of China-EU and China-Netherlands relations. Zhang said that the sixth China-EU Summit held in October 2003 in Beijing is of great significance. At the meeting both sides agreed to establish all-round strategic partnership. Before that summit, China and EU also released documents on their policies towards each other. Over the past year the all-round China-EU strategic partnership has made important progress mainly in the following aspects:
First, high-level exchanges between the two sides remained frequent and mutual political trust has been further enhanced. Since the summit last year, a number of Chinese leaders have visited over a dozen of European countries and the headquarters of the EU and at the same time many heads of state or government on the EU side also paid visits to China. In a few days to come, leaders of two European countries, namely Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi and German Prime Minister Gerhard Schroeder will visit China. These visits have greatly accelerated the development of bilateral ties.
Second, bilateral economic and trade cooperation grew rapidly. From January to October this year, the trade volume between China and EU reached US$142.1 billion, up 34.4% over the same period of last year. Expanded EU has now become the biggest trade partner of China and China has become the second biggest trade partner of EU.
Third, China-EU bilateral cooperation in such areas as culture, education, science & technology and environmental protection has also made positive headway. In the past year many cultural exchange activities were held in China and some European countries, which have received positive responses. Meanwhile, the bilateral personnel exchange also grew considerably. Since September this year when the ADS agreement signed by the two sides went into effect a large number of Chinese tourists have traveled to Europe. The number of Chinese students studying in EU member states is also increasing. According to incomplete figures, currently the number stands at 150,000.
Fourth, both sides strengthened dialogues and consultations on some major international and regional issues. In the past year, the two sides made sound communication and cooperation on anti-terrorism, non-proliferation, cracking down on transnational organized crimes, UN reform, the Iran nuclear issue and the Middle East issue.
In general, China is satisfied with the positive results in the bilateral relations achieved in the past year. The upcoming Seventh China-EU Summit will be of great importance. As the first meeting after the European Union elected new leadership, it serves as a link between the past and the future. We hope that at the meeting both sides can review the development of bilateral ties in the past year and make plan for future development. We look forward to and have confidence in the positive results to be achieved, said Zhang.
Talking about China-Netherlands relations, Zhang pointed out that the high-level exchanges between the two countries keep high frequency and their economic and trade cooperation has scored outstanding achievements. The Netherlands has been the second largest trade partner of China in Europe for two consecutive years. Both sides have cooperated fruitfully in many fields, and in particular there still remains vast cooperation potentials in areas including agriculture, science & technology, education, heath and environmental protection. The meeting between leaders of the two countries will focus on exchanging ideas about how to further develop bilateral relations in the future. We also expect and believe that the upcoming meeting will make positive results.
Following the briefing, Vice Minister Zhang Yesui took questions from the journalists.
Concerning the achievements of the upcoming China-EU Summit, Zhang replied that the two sides have made full preparations for it and both believe that this summit can make some positive results. First, they have consulted each other on the issuance of a joint statement, which will reflect the consensus reached by leaders of China and the EU at the summit and their opinions on some major issues, and indicate their future cooperation areas. Second, both sides will also issue a joint statement on issues of non-proliferation and arms control. As you may know, China and EU share common interests and shoulder identical responsibilities on the issue of non-proliferation. Third, during the summit, a number of important bilateral cooperation agreements will also be signed, such as the agreement on China-EU science & technology cooperation and the agreement on China-EU customs cooperation. Furthermore, during the summit there will be another two important activities: one is the China-EU Business Summit, in which it is estimated that about 500 Chinese and European entrepreneurs will participate. Premier Wen Jiabao and leaders of EU will also attend and address this business summit. The other is the China-EU Think-tank Roundtable Meeting jointly held by the two sides, which will be attended by related experts and scholars from China and EU to discuss issues of common concern, especially how to develop bilateral ties against the background of increasing challenges brought about by globalization. Premier Wen has indicated that he is willing to hold talks with representatives to the roundtable meeting, listen to their comments and suggestions and answer their questions.
When answering questions on EU's lifting of arms embargo on China, Zhang said that we believe this embargo has become outdated since long. Over 15 years the situation in no matter China or EU, or even in the entire world, has undergone fundamental changes. To continue to keep the embargo neither complies with the reality and nature of the all-round strategic partnership between China and EU nor meets the requirements of future development of bilateral ties. Embargo is a kind of political discrimination, and it is impossible that bilateral relations will not be affected with such embargo be maintained. We hope that the EU can proceed from the strategic situation and the long-term development of bilateral relations between China and the EU to make a positive decision as early as possible. We also hope that by lifting the embargo both sides will be able to cooperate more closely on the basis of mutual respect in a bid to boost the rapid development of bilateral ties. Meanwhile I'd like to stress that the lifting of the arms embargo shall not be linked with any other issue.
With regard to the textile trade between China and EU, Zhang said that it is now a common concern as to what impact the lifting of the textile quota will bring about to the import and export countries of textile products. We think that the integration of textile trade is a major achievement of the Uruguay Round negotiations. As an important member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), China has both the responsibility and the duty to safeguard the achievements of the negotiations. China will approach the textile issue with a responsible attitude. On this issue, China sometimes has some differences with the EU, the Netherlands and some other countries, which can be solved through dialogue and cooperation. In short, on this issue China will take a responsible attitude, paying attention to both the interests of itself and those of its cooperation partners.
In addition, Zhang also answered questions of the journalists on EU's recognition of China's complete market economy status and the impact of Euro rise on China-EU trade relations.