China and Europe stand to benefit from closer cooperation, said Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in a signed article published Monday in German newspaper Handelsblatt as he kicked off a visit to the continent.
In the article titled Embracing Openness and Cooperation for Mutual Benefit, Li pointed to rising instabilities and uncertainties in the international situation and a resurgence of protectionism, unilateralism and anti-globalization sentiments.
Against such a backdrop, China and Europe need to jointly uphold multilateralism and the free trade system by following a strategic and global perspective and a sensible approach, Li said.
"Our two sides need to work together to promote an open world economy and address long-running issues and new challenges confronting the human society to inject stability into an increasingly uncertain world," he said.
China, said the premier, will continue to cooperate with the European Union (EU) on a broad range of issues, such as upholding the Paris Agreement, promoting sustainable development, adhering to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear issue and combating terrorism.
China, he added, is also ready to step up communication and build consensus with the EU on such issues as advancing the reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to fully accommodate the interests and concerns of all parties and better safeguard the interests of the majority of WTO members.
The premier noted that the past 40 years have witnessed a 250-fold increase in trade between the two sides, and that the EU has been China's top trading partner for 15 years in a row, while China has been the EU's second largest trading partner for years running.
Two-way trade hit a new record of 682.16 billion U.S. dollars in 2018, close to eight million visits are exchanged between the two sides every year, and more than 600 flights connect them every week, he added.
"I am confident that these figures will only grow bigger in the future," Li said.
Having opened itself to the world, China will not close its doors but will only open them even wider, Li said, adding that more and more European companies are benefiting from China's latest round of reform and opening-up measures.
"For example, BASF has announced a 10-billion-U.S.-dollar investment decision for a wholly-owned production complex in China's Guangdong province," he said. "ING of the Netherlands and the Bank of Beijing will invest 3 billion RMB yuan to establish a joint venture bank, with ING holding a 51 percent stake, making it the first foreign-controlled bank in China."
The recently adopted Foreign Investment Law is designed to provide better protection for foreign investors and make China an even more attractive destination for overseas investment, he said.
"China is ready to work with Europe to promote two-way opening-up and provide a level playing field for our companies to strengthen cooperation in each other's countries," added the premier.
Li's five-day Europe tour, scheduled for April 8 to 12, takes him to Brussels for the 21st China-EU leaders' meeting, and Croatia for an official visit and the eighth leaders' meeting of China and Central and Eastern European countries (CEECs).
According to Li, during the upcoming China-EU leaders' meeting, the two sides will compare notes on a timetable and roadmap for intensifying negotiations on a China-EU Bilateral Investment Treaty.
The two sides, he added, will also push for meaningful progress in the negotiations on the agreement of geographical indications, and hold the fourth China-EU Innovation Cooperation Dialogue.
"We want to use these efforts to develop new areas and new highlights in China-Europe cooperation," said the premier.
As regards China-CEEC cooperation, Li said that as a platform for cross-regional cooperation, it is oriented to promoting free trade and globalization.
"China-CEEC cooperation, which has developed in the larger framework of China-Europe relations and EU laws and regulations, is conducive to more balanced development and unity of the EU and serves as a useful complement to China-EU relations," he added.
"China and the EU have far more common interests than differences," he said. "And our two sides have the wisdom and capability to properly handle differences, jointly tackle challenges, and expand mutually beneficial cooperation to the benefit of our nearly 2 billion people."