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China is not dictated to Europe

14:37, November 30, 2009

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By Li Hong, People's Daily Online

Quite a few newspapers in Europe have written that the continent is in danger of losing ground to the United States in relations with China, some even fuelling the talk of "G-2" world co-chaired by Washington and Beijing. We do not embrace the two- state theory, but it is rightly time for European leaders to take a retrospect of its past policies, and start to chart a new strategy to engage the fast-rising populous country.

It is a pity that its mindset hasn't been refreshed. At the current round of Sino-EU summit meeting being held in Nanjing, east China, European leaders held on to their previous bastion, pressuring China to revalue Chinese currency. They allege Chinese currency in a way pegged to the U.S. dollar is wrong, and calls on China to change it so that more European-made products could find their way to China.

They have also planned to demand Beijing do more for world climate change, but dropped that "dictate" prior to their boarding plane because the State Council, the country's highest governing body, promptly released an ambitious scheme to reduce carbon intensity of Chinese economy by 2020. The move is described by Beijing as voluntary.

In bilateral relations, applying pressure has been proved to be obsolete, which often backfires and damages ties in the end. U.S. President Barrack Obama earned many Chinese fans and supporters in his just-concluded 4-day visit to Shanghai and Beijing, by steering US-China relations to one between two equals, which paves the foundation for more fruitful and solid cooperation on the world stage. Average Chinese has noted that President Obama really wants a comprehensive, mutually-beneficial and strategically cooperative relationship.

Chinese culture stresses reciprocating respect between two equals. In China's engagement with Europe since 1990s, we seldom have ever felt getting due respect. During his first five-year term, Premier Wen Jiabao had called on the European Union time and again to lift its arms embargo on China, but only met with solo support from then French President Jacque Chirac.

China doesn't naively think it could import state-of-the-art weaponry from Europe once the embargo is lifted, but refusing to lift the ban for up to 20 years is obviously political discrimination against China and the whole Chinese people.

It is nice to note that President Obama has promised his administration will take care of the core interests relating to China, which explicitly points to this country's territorial unity, and Chinese central government's integrity in setting its policies.

However, the irritants jeopardizing E.U.-China relations have occasionally prop up. Beijing had to cancel a December 2008 summit meeting in protest at a meeting between the Dalai Lama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who held the E.U. presidency at the time. Before that, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's hosting of the Dalai Lama at her official residency brought bilateral ties to a low unseen in many years.
And, the farce staged in Europe by Tibetan separatists and their patrons while the 2008 Olympic Torch was relayed there, is really hard for the average Chinese to consume for a long time to come.

We believe, except for some political forces, ordinary people in Europe won't have much disgruntles about China, and its holding of the Olympic Games. And, we believe, ordinary people in Europe wants China successful and Chinese people well. With regard to trade, we also believe that inexpensive and quality Chinese goods will run into favor and meet tight family budget of many European households, as their governments still face an uphill battle to combat a lingering recession.

China will readjust its currency formation regime in keeping with the market conditions, while any pressure from outside its borders won't sway it a millimeter. Some in the West will choose to impose more pressure by levying higher tariffs on Chinese goods, but any protectionist anti-trade moves will be resolutely opposed and fought.

After all, China's market is colossal, and is not to be neglected.

The articles in this column represent the author's views only. They do not represent opinions of People's Daily or People's Daily Online.

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About this column

After 19 years working for China Daily and its website, Li Hong moved to english.people.com.cn in March 2009.

Li has been a reporter and column writer, mainly on China's economy and politics.

He was graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University, and once studied in University of Hawaii and the Poynter Institute in Florida.

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