China is high on EU agenda: European expert

08:34, September 07, 2010      

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A European think-tank expert said that the European Union is seeking a closer EU-China cooperation after the first high-level Strategic Dialogue held earlier this month in China.

As underlined by Shada Islam, head of Asian Program at the European Policy Center (EPC), an independent think-tank based in Brussels, in a recent interview with Xinhua, the dialogue was a symbolic get-to-know China mission designed to strengthen cooperation and show that "China is high on the EU agenda."

From Aug. 30 to Sept. 4, EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Catherine Ashton, met Chinese leaders to discuss EU-China relations, major international and regional issues, and the bloc's perspectives on China's development.

Ashton first visited Shanghai World Expo before going to Guiyang, capital city of southwestern China's Guizhou Province, to co-chair the Strategic Dialogue with Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo on Wednesday. Then, she traveled to Beijing for a ministerial dialogue with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and held talks with Premier Wen Jiabao

Several issues were discussed during the meeting, with a special focus on security, environment and economic questions.

Concerning China's opposition to economic sanctions imposed on Iran, Islam said that the EU would maintain its decision while remaining open to debate and negotiations with Iran.

At the same time, the expert believed the EU should change its environment strategy towards China. The Chinese authorities will not follow EU's legally-binding standards, arguing that such measures could slow down the country's development.

Islam therefore suggested that the EU help China move to a low- carbon development path by promoting cooperation and knowledge sharing.

As EU is calling for greater market access, Islam insisted that China would do more to open its market. "The EU opened its market and it should be the other way round,"she told Xinhua.

"Increased market access will not have a direct impact on China' s position as EU's second largest trade partner. In other words, China will not replace the United States in the short term," Islam declared, pointing out EU-U.S. long-standing economic relationships.

In the future, Islam would like to see the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) signed, as the conclusion of this agreement could play a major role in strengthening EU-China strategic partnership.



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