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Global Times

Xi to meet European leaders

Global Times

By Leng Shumei and Li Xuanmin Source: Global Times Published: 2020/9/13 21:23:40

VIdeo conference to pave way for EU Summit: experts

Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to attend a video conference with European leaders on Monday, the second such meeting between Chinese and European leaders in two months.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Tuesday.

The active involvement of Chinese leaders in international cooperation indicates that China's pace in promoting international cooperation has not been hindered by US interruptions, which have become a big threat to internationalization and global stability.

During the Monday video conference, Xi will meet with President of the European Council Charles Michel, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss China-EU relations and issues of common interest, Zhang Ming, head of the Chinese Mission to the EU, told the media at a briefing on Friday.

This type of meeting is the first of its kind in history. We hope it will help increase political trust, enhance practical cooperation, send a positive signal that China and the EU are jointly upholding multilateralism and free trade and promoting economic recovery, Zhang said.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which is still raging globally, communication between China and the EU has not ceased. Xi and Li, as well as other Chinese leaders have maintained close contact with their European counterparts through phone calls and correspondence, Zhang noted.

The summit via video link will send a clear signal of confidence on the negotiation of the China-Europe bilateral investment treaty (BIT), or in a broader context, that the two economies share a solid foundation for deepening cooperation in the post-virus era, observers said.

"The meeting is of great significance amid a Washington-led crackdown on Beijing and as the US presidential election draws near. It shows that both China and Europe are looking to be independent from US pressure, casting China-Europe relations from their own perspectives and based on their own tempo," Cui Hongjian, director of EU Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Both China and Europe will join hands to defend multilateralism, which could help clear away concerns surrounding the new cold war ideology and decoupling. A stable China-Europe relationship will also help the world economy to navigate the uncharted waters under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Cui.

Analysts predict that the video conference will pave the way for the EU Summit, in which Chinese leaders are expected to participate, and where some big deals between the two economies are expected to be signed.

This year marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of China-EU diplomatic ties and is described by many as a milestone year in China-EU relations.

Premier Li Keqiang will attend the WEF Special Virtual Dialogue with Global Business Leaders on Tuesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian announced Friday.

He will deliver an address and have discussions with the business leaders attending the meeting, Zhao said.

China's continuous and active efforts to promote international cooperation in the post-pandemic era are vital for the world economy to recover from the disaster while the US has kept moving against the tendency of internationalization by promoting protectionism and unilateralism instead, Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Prosperous exchanges between China and other countries indicate that China's pace in international cooperation has not been affected while the US is promoting unilateralism and protectionism, Li Haidong said.

Promising summit

The EU Summit was originally scheduled to for September in Leipzig, Germany, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

"Despite the absence of face-to-face meetings due to the pandemic, the video meeting is a way for both sides to keep communicating, reduce misunderstandings and cement political trust. It will create conditions for in-person meetings later," Cui noted.

The summit will deliver on several priorities, one of which is to facilitate the BIT and ensure that its negotiation should be completed by the end of 2020 - as previously planned by top officials, analysts said.

Talks on the deal were launched in 2013 and there have been more than 30 rounds of negotiations since then.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in early September that China-EU BIT negotiations have entered the final stage, and both sides need to ratchet up efforts and make "political decisions" where necessary to solve lingering problems as soon as possible and ensure its completion as scheduled.

"Both sides have reached consensus on the most technical issues. During the video conference, officials from both sides will address some persistent disagreements on such things as claimed subsidies to state-owned enterprises," Cui said.

Analysts noted that throughout the meeting, China and the EU bloc will vow to strengthen cooperation on trade and economic issues, in particular guaranteeing a stable supply chain and preventing industrial decoupling against the backdrop of rebooting the economy in the post-virus period.

"China and Europe could also expand cooperation in jointly building a green and digital economy, a direction which the EU bloc has been transiting to," Cui noted.

Cooperation sustains stability

It is important for China and Chinese companies to enhance cooperation with their foreign counterparts, which will benefit global development and help sustain international order under the interruption of the US, Li Haidong noted.

The US has become a big threat to global stability and security. It wants to isolate China from the world, but it will not succeed, Li said.

China, a country that has led the world in fighting against the novel coronavirus epidemic and resuming production, will not be affected by external interruptions but will only embrace the world more actively and openly in the post-pandemic era, Chinese analysts said.

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