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EU, China extend hands of friendship (2)

(China Daily)

14:25, August 21, 2012

To speak to China, as the first "emerging" power of the new world reality, one must do so with a single voice, on behalf of all the countries and citizens of the EU. Or, at least, what is said and done from the institutions that represent all of us, and what is proposed by each one of the countries of the EU, must be harmonized clearly and without contradictions. The current situation weakens us, confuses the speakers, and limits the advances in the interest of all.

China bases its strategy on two basic concepts: "convergence of interests" and "communities of interests". I will try to delve into these ideas, both contained in the long and interesting dialogue initiated, and I will save the analysis of the proposals of that "decalogue" for a later date and with more extension.

The idea of studying the "convergence of interests" between China and the EU has a pragmatic sense, a "Confucian" sense like the rest, if you wish, stemming from the reciprocal knowledge of the realities and the challenges faced by both parties, in their own domestic or shared (EU) spaces, to which the outside ones affecting both must be added. For example, the Middle East.

I must say that I was surprised by the frankness with which my dialogue partner explained to me the internal challenges that China must face in the short, medium and long terms. Even with no representation, I expounded with the same candor my vision of the European issues, including the difficulty of finding an answer to the current crisis and to the adaptation of the EU to the challenges of globalization.

From his point of view, which I believe to be more effective, "the convergence of interests" should lead to shared positions in matters to be considered by both parties. This is an exercise of dialogue between officers capable of deciding upon those shared areas of interest.

Upon these coincidences, a second step would be taken to create "communities of interests" with long-term and solid prospects over time, and therefore, with a middle- and long-term outlook.

I will offer a highly topical example of the latter. The EU has proposed that China participate in the Financial Stability Facility. Already in the G20 meeting in southern France, the Chinese presented reasonable objections to the proposal. Among others was the lack of clarity and decision of the EU to configure the facility and to make it operational. I would add, besides, that China already owns more than $500 billion of sovereign debt of the European countries.

I asked, as an alternative, whether China would be willing to participate, with the European Investment Bank, in a fund to channel multibillion euros into investment, indispensable for the recovery of the depressed economy of the EU. Infrastructures of great significance for the competitive future of the EU would be part of the package without affecting public debt, and overcoming this self-destructive obsession with adjustment at the expense of everything else.

Obviously, it belongs to China to state its opinion on something like this, if the EU is able to articulate the answer that we need to improve demand, employment and competitiveness. I can only advance that it is a more understandable language for China that the one being used to date, and that my feeling is that it would enter such an operation more easily and willingly than the one currently being proposed to them.
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