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People's Daily Online>>Foreign Affairs

EU, Chinese leaders urged to have 'open' talks

By Fu Jing (China Daily)

08:48, February 14, 2012

BRUSSELS - A senior European Union legislator called on EU and Chinese leaders to hold an "open dialogue" at Tuesday's summit to tackle trade protectionism "carefully and objectively".

"During the summit a topic that will be high on the agenda is EU-China trade and investment relations in the context of our strategic partnership," Iliana Ivanova, a member of the European Parliament and vice-chair of the parliament's delegation for relations with China, told China Daily in an interview before the 14th China-EU leaders' summit in Beijing on Tuesday.

Given the colossal scale of bilateral trade, Ivanova said: "It is important to discuss the issue of protectionism carefully and objectively."

Ivanova urged the two sides to acknowledge the difficulties that both sides face in an impartial and objective manner.

"I know some of the problems that European companies encounter when trying to do business in China and at the same time, we know about issues that Chinese companies have in the EU, not necessarily of the same nature, but these are still making their life more difficult compared to those of their EU partners," said Ivanova.

While saying that each side can point to such examples, she added: "The question here, as I see it, is to focus on the possible solutions and dialogue, and not to point fingers at each other."

Ivanova said this is what a strategic partnership means, and both sides are too important for each other to let temporary political feelings hamper the relationship. And in the long run, no one will gain from protectionism, although it may seem like an attractive short-term solution.

"This is what I mainly expect from this summit - an open dialogue where all viewpoints will be heard and a place where possible solutions might arise. I truly hope for that," said Ivanova.

She added the eurozone had to shoulder most of the responsibility for overcoming the bloc's debt crisis.

"We in the EU have to do our work and then look for additional assistance."

She said that as China is the world's biggest creditor, its role in assisting the eurozone during the debt crisis could be critical.

Currently, the EU is China's biggest trading partner and destination for China's exports.

"If the eurozone falls into a deep recession this scenario will have also a negative impact on the Chinese economy."

Moreover, China is looking to diversify its foreign exchange holdings, and lending to Europe would boost Beijing's euro holdings, she said.

"Though I do not think that we shall limit the topic only within the amounts which China can lend to the EU, but also focus on Chinese companies which are willing to invest in the EU economy, especially in Central and Eastern Europe," said Ivanova, who is from Bulgaria.

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