Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao arrived at EU headquarters in Brussels, known as the "capital of Europe", last Friday, January 30 with the blessing for the lunar new year of ox. His choice of Europe as the destination for the first trip for 2009 by a Chinese leader holds special significance.
The Chinese premier's meeting with EU leaders during China's traditional spring festival has embodied the good wish of both sides for continued efforts to further develop the all-round strategic partnership between China and Europe.
With giant strides or fast progress made in bilateral relations over the past decade, China and Europe have erected a framework for an all-dimensional, wide-ranging and multi-level cooperation. The two sides have noticeably increased their understanding and mutual trust, with a good momentum having emerged to continuously enrich and deepen the connotation for the Sino-European all-round strategic partnership.
To date, China and EU have established more tan 40 consultation and dialogue mechanisms, involving such fields as the realms of politics, economics, banking service, sciences, technology, energy, culture and education. The EU has become China's greatest cooperation partner in economy, trade and science and technology. Pragmatic bilateral cooperation have not only brought substantial benefits to both sides but injected a flow of fresh vitality into the world peace and development.
Since early last year, however, the erroneous acts of a few EU member leaders on the Tibet-related issue and the human rights issue have harmed China's core interests and shaken to some extent the basis of bilateral mutual trust with EU.
What has been gratifying is that the Czech Republic, which holds the current EU presidency, recently conferred with China on advancing the normal, positive growth of EU-China ties for 2009. The Czech Republic voiced its willingness to cooperate closely with the Chinese side along with other EU member nations and write new chapters in EU-China ties. Meanwhile, China reiterated its readiness to make concerted efforts with the EU and its member states to view the Sino-EU relations from a new strategic height and with a long-term approach, beef up mutual trust and deepen cooperation with the EU so as to spur the continuous progress of Sino-EU relations.
During Wen's visit at the EU Headquarters in Brussels last Friday, China and the European Union issued a joint statement, in which both sides reaffirmed their resolve to further develop their all-round strategic partnership, enhance dialogue to increase mutual understanding and properly handle their differences, further expand and deepen cooperation in all spheres on the principled basis of equality, mutual trust and respect.
As the world economy is now loomed by the shadow of recession, both China and the EU have been negatively affected to varying extent. While the crisis has wrought challenges to China and EU, it also provided their future cooperation with new opportunities. In an effort to cope with the crisis and reform the global financial system, both sides have taken many identical measures and set forth numerous similar proposals. It is ascribed precisely to the common ground that has created conditions for the expansion of Sino-EU relations.
On the Sino-European ties, Premier Wen has made a vivid, incisive exposition of relating the boat to the bridge. China and the EU have "no fundamental conflict of interests" and there are also needs to intensify cooperation in a wide range of areas, he said. In this point, he noted, "We are all in the same boat." Meanwhile, he added, China and Europe are both "harmonious but different". Of course, due to different historical backgrounds, cultural traditions, and different social systems, it is normal for China and the EU to have differences; this is nothing to fear about as it does not affect our relations. In this sense, he acknowledged, "we are also on the same bridge" -- a bridge to facilitate friendship, enhance consultations and resolve differences.
In spite of the fast-changing, highly volatile international situation, the ship to carry the common interests of China and Europe will charge ahead on the surging tide of friendship and cooperation. Just as Premier Wen told a press conference in Brussels on Friday: The enhanced mutual trust between China, the biggest developing nation, and the EU, the biggest group of nations on earth, will surely exert a vital, important impact on world peace and prosperity.
Premier Wen's trip of confidence to Europe made during China's traditional spring festival will, beyond any doubt, pluck up the confidence of both China and EU to tide over the tough, trying period for economic recovery and jointly open up another splendid spring for Sino-EU cooperation.
By People's Daily Online, and contributed by PD reporter Zhong Sheng