On the night of December 7 local time, Premier Wen Jiaobao of the State Council who had just arrived in the Hague met respectively with President of EU Commission Jose Manuel Barroso and representatives of experts to attend China-EU Think Tank Roundtable Conference at the hotel where he stayed.
Wen was pleased to know Barroso and sang high praise for the contributions he has made as the Foreign Minister and Prime Minister of Portugal to the promotion of China-Portugal relations, saying he is expecting close cooperation with Barroso to promote further development of China-EU relations.
Wen pointed out that to expand and deepen China-EU relations is not only conducive to both parties, but also to the whole world. As an open relationship, China-EU ties do not target the third party, which helps stabilize the relations between big powers. He hoped that China and the EU can treat and approach bilateral relations from a strategic and long-term perspective, grasp opportunities and strive to promote better development of bilateral relations. This is our shared mission and responsibility.
Barroso noted that EU members unanimously support the development of EU-China comprehensive strategic partnership and pay significant attention to the progress in bilateral cooperation in various fields. The EU Commission will work with China to promote better development of EU-China friendly relations on the basis of the achievements already attained.
Wen's meeting with the experts and scholars to attend the China-EU Think Tank Roundtable Conference turned out to be a heated talk. Experts and scholars from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, China and Spain expressed their views on the basis, future prospect and existing problems of China-EU relations. Wen said that to share good with others for the benefit of all and to learn good from others for the benefit of our own should be an important principle for addressing relations between different people as well as between different countries. I hope you experts and scholars who have been involved in the research of China-EU relations for years to contribute your brilliant ideas and suggestions to the development of bilateral relations.
Wen said the broad shared interests and demand for cooperation constitute the solid foundation for the development of China-EU relations. There is no fundamental conflict between China and the EU. The two sides share consensus on many important international issues and enjoy strong economic complementarities and wide areas of cooperation.
As for the similarities and differences between China and the EU proposed by the experts and scholars, Wen said ancient Chinese philosophers advocate agreeing to disagree. Wen said we need to have a correct understanding of the differences between China and the EU. We may seek common grounds and put aside differences. It is neither strange nor fearful that the two sides have some different views on certain questions due to different social and historical backgrounds as well as cultural traditions.
Wen noted that China and the EU need to enhance understanding. Many Chinese do not know much about Europe and frankly the Europeans know even less about China. As they do not know the past, the present and the future of China, they may have concerns of one kind or another over the country. Recently I read a speech by EU Commissioner Peter Mandelson who said "each of us should become a China expert now". I was impressed by his words. Understanding is the basis of cooperation and respect is the precondition for understanding. The current status of China-EU relations did not come by easily. We expect to see more European experts knowing China and of course also more Chinese experts knowing Europe. This will be an important force to enhance mutual understanding and trust between China and Europe.
The China-EU Think Tank Roundtable Conference was sponsored by the European Policy Center and China Institute of International Studies. This is the first time for it to be held during China-EU Leaders' Meeting. Experts and scholars from a number of Chinese and European institutions attended the conference